Manny Pacquiao’s fight with Timothy Bradley on April 9 has been billed as his last, since the boxer has made it clear that he plans to move on from the sport and pursue a career in politics. But recent developments could have Pacquiao rethinking his decision to call it a career.
Pacquiao was elected to the Philippine House of Representatives in 2007, and he became a congressman in 2010. Now, he’s running for the senate in his native Philippines, but there’s no guarantee he will win the race. The latest polls show that Pacquiao is no longer projected to win a senate seat, according to reports.
There’s been speculation that Pacquiao’s poor performance in the polls could be related to his most recent controversy. Pacquiao caused a stir when he made anti-gay comments, and reiterated his feelings after apologizing for his statements. There’s no evidence that Pacquiao’s comments and his position in the polls are directly linked, but they have occurred within the same timeframe.
Whatever the reason for Pacquiao’s senate seat being in jeopardy, it does raise the idea of the welterweight potentially foregoing his planned retirement. When Pacquiao was asked in January how losing the election would affect his boxing career, he seemed less sure about his decision to retire.
“I don’t know,” Pacquiao said at a press conference. “At that time, God willing, I’ll be a senator in the Philippines and I’ll ask the people of the Philippines if they’ll allow it. My attention and focus is to serve the people. I’ll ask the people if they agree to that.”
There are still plenty of reasons for Pacquiao to retire, even if he doesn’t become a senator. He’s taken plenty of punishment over the years, having 65 fights since he turned pro in 1995. Having won titles in eight different weight classes, there isn’t much more for Pacquiao to accomplish.
A potential rematch with Floyd Mayweather would be the biggest incentive for Pacquiao to return to the ring after his April 9 fight. Last year’s bout with Mayweather earned Pacquiao more than $100 million, and even though a rematch wouldn’t generate as much interest, it would still offer Pacquiao a major payday. Pacquiao has defeated most of the great fighters of his era, but he was unable to beat Mayweather, whom he’s been compared to for much of his career.
Even if Mayweather is open to another fight with Pacquiao, which doesn’t seem to be the case, the rematch would only happen if Pacquiao has a dominant performance against Bradley. The boxers split their first two meetings, though most experts have concluded that Pacquiao should have been named the winner in both fights.
There are plenty of questions surrounding Bradley’s future, as well. Bradley retained the WBO welterweight title (which he recently vacated) with a dominant win over Brandon Rios in November, and has his eyes set on winning titles for weight classes at which he still hasn’t fought.
"I want to win another world championship at 147 and at 154 and then I'd even go to 160 for the right type of fight. I'd even fight Gennady Golovkin," Bradley told ESPN.com in June. "I'm willing to face the best fighters out of there. I'm chasing the Hall of Fame. I want the best guys on my resume."
But Bradley has also contemplated retirement. His contract with Top Rank expires in 2017, and that might mean he will consider hanging up his gloves sooner rather than later. Bradley's wife, who also serves as his manager, has stated that she would like him to retire.
"I think about it," Bradley told ESPN.com in June. "My wife and I sit down with a goal in mind of when I will possibly hang 'em up, after I finish my contract with Top Rank. Things change and goals change along the way. Things happen."
Considering there is so much uncertainty surrounding what’s next for Pacquiao and Bradley, a lot is at stake in their April 9 fight.