Pacquiao signs off by mauling Bradley
Pacquiao stands by decision to retire after mauling Bradley in swansong bout
Manny Pacquiao admitted that he was "50-50" about retirement, after bidding farewell to boxing with a vintage performance to defeat long-time rival Tim Bradley yesterday morning (Singapore time).
The 37-year-old Filipino had promised to deliver an explosive display -and he did not disappoint the 14,665 fans who had crammed into the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to witness what may have been the final curtain call of an icon.
Pacquiao, the only man to capture world titles in eight different weight divisions, produced flashes of brilliance in the 66th fight of his career and knocked down Bradley twice on his way to a unanimous decision in the welterweight duel.
The judges' scorecards told the story of Pacquiao's dominance, with the Filipino winning by identical margins of 116-110 on all three cards.
It was the sort of performance his admirers believe could persuade him to prolong a career that has earned him more than US$500 million ($674m) over 21 years.
Pacquiao admitted afterwards that while he was conflicted about quitting the ring, his decision - for now - was to spend more time with his family before concentrating on his political career in the Philippines, where he is seeking election to the Senate next month.
Asked if he might best serve his homeland by continuing to fight, Pacquiao said he had promised his family he would retire.
"Let me enjoy first a retired life," he said. "I'm not there yet, so I don't know what it feels like.
"But I made a commitment to my family. I made my decision."
Asked to make a definitive declaration of retirement, Pacquiao smiled.
"My heart is 50-50," he said.
"But I love my family, I honour my family, my kids... right now, my decision is to retire."
Pacquiao, whose previous outing was his ill-fated "Fight of the Century" against Floyd Mayweather last May, clearly relished his return to the ring after an 11-month lay-off, smiling throughout his third battle with Bradley.
"I felt fresh, every round, it was exciting - I felt like I did when I started first boxing here in America in 2001," Pacquiao said. "If you ask me about my condition, my body feels okay, I can still give 100 per cent, training."
Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, admitted that he hoped to see the Filipino fight on.
"I would like to see him fight again, yes," said Roach.
"We've had a great 15 years together. If he retires, I'll be happy for him. That's kind of up to him.
"I know he's in physical shape to keep fighting - his speed is good, his legs are good, his work ethic is great.
"He could continue to fight on but, if he retires and spends more time with his family and he enjoys life, and has something to fall back on, then I'll be 100 per cent behind him."
While boxing history is littered with fighters who have fought on for too long - with often calamitous results - Roach wondered whether Pacquiao would be haunted by regret if he left too soon.
"You know, it's a difficult sport to quit, it's really, really hard to retire and I think he hasn't realised that yet. But he will soon," Roach said.
Pacquiao's masterclass in ringcraft yesterday morning merely confirmed the trainer's belief that he was capable of extending his career.
"We talked about it being his last pro fight and I said, 'Go out with a bang, let's look good doing it'. And he did that," Roach said.
"When I see Manny aggressive like that - that's the best Manny Pacquiao. I saw him smiling quite a lot in the ring tonight and that just tells me how much he loves the sport."
Bradley, meanwhile, paid tribute to his opponent.
"He always seemed to be in the right spot. He was a step ahead of me when I was supposed to be a step ahead of him," Bradley said.
"He used his experience against me, his ability and he won the fight tonight... I'm in there with a special man, Manny Pacquiao." - AFP.
He’s in physical shape to keep fighting.
— Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s coach