Promoter: Manny Pacquiao Retiring in 2016

Fight promoter Bob Arum says Pacquiao told him of plans at dinner.

Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao will retire from the sport after his final pay-per-view bout on April 9 so he can run for the senate in the Philippines, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.

Arum said Pacquiao, the only fighter in boxing history to win eight titles in eight weight classes, is swapping hand-to-hand combat to fully focus his energy on an even more dangerous arena: politics.

“I’m telling you what he told me last week at dinner in New York,” Arum said. “We talked very seriously, and he said, ‘Bob, hopefully, by the middle of May I will have been elected senator in the Philippines, and at that point I cannot engage in boxing because I need to focus on the senate and I have to be in attendance.’

Pacquiao is already a congressman in the Philippines, and he wants to campaign full-time for a senate seat. If he wins, he isn’t likely to stop there. Arum told ESPN that if Pacquiao “is serious about wanting to be president, these six years in the senate would be like an audition and for him to show his people that he really is a serious politician.”

According to Arum, Manny Pacquiao’s last opponent has yet to be determined, but the final fight is likely to take place April 9 at the newly-built Las Vegas Arena.

The list of those under consideration for Pac-Man’s last foe may be topped by junior-lightweight titlist Terence Crawford, a Nebraska native and contender for boxing’s current pound-for-pound best fighter, who delivered an impressive 10th round knockout of Dierry Jean on Saturday night.

Arum told ESPN that Crawford is a leading candidate to face Pacquiao, adding that the two other possibilities are British welterweight star Amir Khan, and, in the least interesting match-up, a third fight against welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley Jr., who has split two bouts with Pacquiao. (Although Pacquiao’s laughable decision loss to Bradley was such a robbery by the judges that almost no one credits Bradley with the win.)

It would be fascinating to see a boxing legend like Pacquiao ascend to leading a nation of over 100 million. We’d be up for a Putin-Pacquiao sparring match—if it comes to that, and Vladimir is willing.

Photos by Al Bello / Getty Images Sport