Manila - Philippine boxing hero Manny
Pacquiao announced on Wednesday he would likely retire next year after one last
fight to focus on a career in politics, hopefully as a senator.
The born-again Christian, winner of an
unprecedented eight world titles in as many weight divisions and at times
touted as a future president of the Philippines, said he had taken career
advice from God.
"I think I'm ready (to retire). I've
been in boxing for more than 20 years," Pacquiao, 36, said in an interview
on local ABS-CBN television network.
"I prayed to God for guidance and I am
happy about it."
Pacquiao turned professional when he was 16
years old and has won 57 fights, including 38 knockouts while losing six, three
of them knockouts. Two other bouts ended in a draw.
He lost a unanimous decision in May to
unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather in boxing's richest bout, which the Filipino
fought with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
Pacquiao, a congressman since 2010,
announced this week his bid for a senate seat in national elections to be held
in May next year.
"I will have to give up the other
things that require my attention. If you are a senator, your focus should only
be your job and your family," he said in the interview.
Before the elections, Pacquiao said he
planned to climb into the ring that has made him one of the world's richest
sportsmen for what would probably be one last time.
He has yet to pick his next opponent, and
said he was not ruling out a rematch with Mayweather, even though the American
has already announced his retirement.
A rags-to-riches Philippine idol, Pacquiao,
a former street vendor, has shrewdly parlayed his boxing success into a career
in show business, product endorsements and politics.
Now representing his southern province of
Sarangani in the lower chamber of congress, the pint-sized Pacquiao is also an
improbable professional basketball player and a Christian pastor.
He was mercilessly criticised on social
media this week after it was reported he had attended just four legislative
sessions out of 70 this year due to sporting and other commitments.
Despite this, the latest pre-election
surveys put him in the winning circle of the 12 senatorial slots up for grab at
Pacquiao pledged he would be a
"serious" senator should he win in May.
"I will not be absent because the
whole country would be my responsibility," he said.