Legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao announced Sunday he’s accepted the PDP-Laban party nomination for president in the Philippines’ 2022 presidential election.
“I am a fighter, and I will always be a fighter inside and outside the ring,” Pacquiao said in his acceptance speech, according to the Associated Press. “In the name of our countrymen who have long been desiring for the right change in government, I wholeheartedly, bravely and humbly hope for your support.”
The 42-year-old Filipino superstar has worked in politics since 2010 while continuing his boxing career.
He served as a member of the country’s House of Representatives from 2010 through 2016 before being elected to the Senate, where he worked for the past five years.
Pacquiao lost to Yordenis Ugas by unanimous decision in his most recent fight in August, and he hinted toward potential retirement in an Instagram post after the bout.
“I have come to this point in my career by the grace of God. It is He who gave me the strength to fight. I can look back and honestly say that I gave my best,” Pac-Man wrote. “My family and you, the fans, have been with me all the way. I will not focus on the defeat, but instead count my blessings. God bless everyone!”
The former eight-division world champion previously told Lance Pugmire of The Athletic he wasn’t a fan of the dark side of politics, but he still felt the urge to help his people in the Philippines.
“I want the new generations to have that same dream I had in my heart,” Pacquiao said. “This is why I became a politician. God knows my heart. I don’t like politics. I don’t like corruption. I don’t know how many times I’ve told my wife [Jinkee], ‘I regret entering politics, but I’m here and this is God’s plan, so I will do my job and tend to my responsibility.'”
He added: “I can forgo politics, but not the opportunity to serve.”
Panfilo Lacson of the Partido Reporma (Reform Party) is the only other confirmed presidential candidate so far ahead of the May 9 election. Incumbent Rodrigo Duterte is ineligible for a second term based on the country’s constitution but is seeking a vice presidential bid.
If Pacquiao’s boxing career has concluded, he’ll finish as the owner of a 62-8-2 career record with 39 wins by knockout.
He scored high-profile victories over Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Shane Mosley, among others, and fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. in one of the most highly anticipated bouts in boxing history in 2015. Mayweather won by unanimous decision. He also faced off with Juan Manuel Marquez four times, going 2-1-1 in that rivalry.
His pro career has spanned 26 years after starting in 1995.