One of the most iconic boxers of the 21st century thus far, Manny Pacquiao, has confirmed his return to boxing on November 5, where he will face WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Despite claiming his last outing, his rubber match against Timothy Bradley, would be his last, the rumors of his return started to circulate in late June.
Last month, Pacquiao, who is supposed to be a committed to his role as Senator of the Philippines, vehemently denied the reports that he would take a leave of absence from his political capacity to take on another bout.
“There is no truth to media reports that I’m planning to take a leave from my senate duties just to fight again atop the ring,” read his statement. “I want to make it clear, my priority is my legislative works.
“My next fight has not yet been discussed. Should there be any, I'll make sure it will not interfere with my senate duties. When I ran for senator last May 9 elections, I made a promise to be present in all sessions. I owe it to the people.”
Despite some of the massive paydays ‘Pacman’ has received in the past, most notably for his ‘Fight of the Century’ clash with Floyd Mayweather Jr in May 2015, the division-jumping pugilist has revealed that his main reason for returning to the squared circle is money.
“Boxing is my main source of income. I can’t rely on my salary as a public official,” explained Pacquiao after announcing his return to boxing.
“I’m helping the family of my wife and my own family, as well. Many people also come to me to ask for help and I just couldn’t ignore them,” he said two days ago.
Committed to the Senate?
One of the first things Pacquiao said when he broke the news of his comeback was that he would a still remain committed to the Senate during his training camp. To guarantee he isn’t distracted by his return to the ring, he has set up his camp in the Philippines.
Pacquiao made a promise that he would have a perfect attendance record when he was voted into the Senate last May, and he appears to be still gearing himself towards that goal.
“My entire training camp will be held here in the Philippines so I can attend to my legislative works. This is my campaign promise and I’m determined to keep it,” Pacquiao said.
The only man to win a lineal championships in five different divisions, when he hung up his gloves he was offered a chance to compete for the Philippines as an amateur in the Rio 2016 Games by Wu Ching-Kuo, president of the International Boxing Association (AIBA), the governing body for amateur boxing. However, knowing that his decision could win him a lot of criticism, Pacquiao decided to stay away from the Olympics.
Given that a prospective outing at the Olympics brought on so much flack for the Senator, the November 5 date is likely to see him come under more criticism.
If it’s money Pacquiao is after, a meeting with Jessie Vargas may not be the best way to go about it. Top Rank has confirmed that the November bout will be available on pay-per-view, but if Pacquiao’s last outing was anything to go by, the promotion is taking a bit of a risk with the legend.
“It will be somewhere between those numbers, 400,000 and 500,000. It’s all being added up, but it will be closer to 400,000 than 500,000. Terrible,” Bob Arum, Top Rank promoter, told ESPN after the Bradley trilogy fight.
Arum also highlighted his belief that Pacquiao’s negative comments about homosexuals had an impact on the sales of the trilogy bout.
“Certainly, the pushback from Manny’s gay remarks killed us,” Arum said. “It hurt us a lot. But I think it was also less a reaction to the match than a reaction to the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. It was a reaction like Mayweather got. Mayweather also got punished (by consumers).”
Arum must be confident that Pacquiao’s critics have forgiven him ahead of the return bout. On paper, the Vargas contest is far less interesting than the third meeting with Bradley, even though ‘La Nueva Generacion’ secured the vacant WBO welterweight crown in his bout with Sadam Ali back in March.
Pacquiao hasn’t exactly steered away from controversial stances either. Just three day ago he came out in support of the Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte, who is campaigning for the death sentence to be introduced for convicted drug dealers.
“We must speak to these criminal minds in the only language they understand,” said Pacquiao. “They must understand that our government will put a stop to impunity. They have profited from thousands upon thousands of Filipino youths. It must stop now.”
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