Approaching an empty ring, the camera moves through the doors of the dimly-lit Pacman Wild Card Gym in Hollywood. Orchestral strings crescendo in a poignant score fit for a tragic scene in a movie.
It cuts to professional boxer Manny Pacquiao himself in an elegant living room, his hands clasped in front of him. On cue, he takes a single step towards the camera and begins his message. A very long, emotional message set to music lasting more than 14 minutes, to be exact.
“Boxing has always been my passion. I was given the opportunity of representing the Philippines, bringing fame and honor to my country every time I enter the ring. I am grateful for all my accomplishments and the opportunity to inspire the fans,” Pacquiao said in the now-viral video, posted ten days after he confirmed his bid to run for Philippine president in elections set for 2022.
He then launched into three minutes of thank-you’s and shout-outs to the people and families who’ve helped him along the way, mentioning some four dozen names, not counting his family—the (very large) village that it took to take him from poor village boy to global boxing icon. As he thanked his patrons and supporters, a montage of pictures showed his hungry years as a trainee fighter all through his early successes.
Among special mentions were his uncle Sardo Mejia, trainer Freddie Roach, promoter Bob Arum, and a handful of influential, political families.
Visibly emotional, he thanked the media, his fans, and God.
“Who would have thought that Manny Pacquiao will end up with 12 major world titles in eight different weight divisions?” Pacquiao said. “Even me, I am amazed at what I have done.”
Faded photos and grainy videos of a young, lean Pacquiao in gritty makeshift training gyms and amateur arenas are contrasted with glitzy shots of his international wins and paparazzi snaps of him surrounded by his entourage, hounded by fans.
He’s come a long way and, 8 minutes into the video, the 42-year-old Pacquiao finally made his crucial announcement.
“It is difficult for me to accept that my time as a boxer is over. Today, I am announcing my retirement. I never thought that this day would come. As I hang up my boxing gloves, I would like to thank the whole world, especially the Filipino people, for supporting Manny Pacquiao,” he said.
“Goodbye, boxing. Thank you for changing my life,” he added, as scenes from his early battles and victories showed the small-town rookie evolve into a champion.
Still thanking the sport for bringing him and his family from rags to riches, Pacquiao’s voice catches as he tears up.
“I just heard the final bell,” he said. “The boxing is over,” he added in Filipino.
Saying one final “thank you,” Pacquiao exits the screen, sniffling and wiping a tear with his clenched fist.
But the video does not end there.
With over 4 minutes left on the timeline, it swells into a thumping R&B anthem with a refrain in Filipino that translates to “One Pacquiao for the nation,” a catchy campaign-like song.
The music video is a fast-cut romp through Pacquiao’s travail and triumphs, interspersed with scenes of his Filipino fans in packed stadiums, on street corners and in their living rooms, transfixed at their hero’s nail-biting matches and stunts as a politician.
The lyrics talk about surmounting great odds, underscoring Pacquiao’s Cinderella story—the Filipino equivalent of the American dream.
The lengthy farewell is a melodramatic rollercoaster ride befitting his unparalleled boxing career and his upcoming campaign for the presidency.
The elaborate announcement didn’t take the sporting world by surprise; Pacquiao had hinted at possible retirement even before he lost his last fight with Cuban champion Yordenis Ugas in August. Still, global tributes poured in from the boxing industry.
“Pound-for-pound, one of the greatest to ever step in the ring,” ESPN said in a tweet.
“It was our honor to be your promoter. We wish you nothing but the best in retirement,” said Top Rank Boxing as it tweeted a photo of Arum hugging Pacquiao after one of his fights. It also posted a “highlight reel for the ages.”
“Congratulations on a marvelous career, Pac Man,” Sports Illustrated said in a tweet.
Pacquiao was a colossal boxing champion, finishing his career with 62 wins—39 by knockout, eight losses and two draws. He became the oldest welterweight world champion in history in 2019, and the only one to have bagged the title four times. In 2010, Pacquiao won his bid for congressman of Sarangani province, and went on to become a senator in 2016. In recent years, he has split his time between boxing and politics.
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