Manny Pacquiao Looks to Boxing, Political Future


Manny Pacquiao’s air of invincibility began to unravel after losing to Timothy Bradley in their first fight in June 2012. Now that he’s won the rematch decisively, it looks like the popular Filipino champion will have a chance to finish his career back on top.

Pacquaio’s decisive win by unanimous decision last Saturday over Bradley – and it wasn’t that close (118-110, 116-112, 116-112) – suggests that there will be at least a few more big paydays ahead, possibly including the elusive duel with Floyd Mayweather that could blow all boxing box office records to smithereens.

“My journey in boxing continues,” an elated Paquiao said immediately after the fight, as he indicated that he’ll continue boxing for at least two more years.

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Pacquaio (56-5-2) likely will earn nearly $100 million in the upcoming fights – assuming he keeps winning – and it’s no mystery why, at the age of 35, he’s nowhere close to retiring: He needs the money to set up his next career.

Pacquaio has always been surrounded by a large entourage, mostly Filipinos, whether Stateside or in his homeland. While they provide a support system for him ranging from advisors and counselors to simply hangers-on, they are also beneficiaries of Pacquiao’s unremitting largess.

Because of that, and his lavish spending habits, Pacquiao is reportedly heavily in debt, counting massive unpaid tax bills from both sides of the Pacific. He owes at least 2.1 billion pesos ($47 million) in tax assessments in the Philippines and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is seeking $18 million in back taxes.

Pacquaio, a sitting congressman in the Philippines, is considering an extended political career upon retiring from boxing. And that’ll go nowhere without having his tax issues settled. But because Saturday’s fight took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the IRS will get first dibs on his winning share of more than $20 million.

There’s little doubt that Pacquiao has designs on the presidency of the Philippines. He was first elected to congress in 2010 and was re-elected in 2013. In 2016, around the time he said he’d hang up his boxing gloves, a senate seat will become available. Winning that election would put him on a path to the highest office.

Such are the heady possibilities for a dirt-poor kid who grew up selling donuts on the streets of Manila. He’s obviously immensely popular as a sportsman in the Philippines, and boxing will continue to provide both visibility and a campaign war chest (after taxes) as he climbs the political ladder.

His much-needed victory over Brandon Rios in Macau last December allowed him to recover from consecutive losses against Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez, temporarily putting to rest calls for his retirement. Saturday’s convincing win over Bradley re-established his place in boxing as a major attraction, second only perhaps to Mayweather as a box-office draw.

Pacquiao will certainly leverage that to set up a couple of big-money fights over the next 18 months. Up next for him is a mandatory title defense against the winner of the May 17 bout between Mike Alvarado and Marquez. Pacquiao has never faced Alvarado before, but he could face Marquez for a fifth time – with Pacquiao having lost the last encounter in a sixth-round KO.

After that, it may be slim pickings, unless Mayweather finally consents to a historic match, even if one that is already past its sell-by date.

Pacquiao says, bring it.

“I think about that but I don’t know if that fight will happen,” he told USA Today after Saturday’s fight. “If you ask me, 100 percent I want that fight. It depends on them.

“My telephone line is open 24 hours. Seven days a week.”

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