Boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, already a two-term congressman in the Philippines, has apparently won a seat in the nation's senate, his next stop on the way to what many believe will be an eventual run for the presidency.
Pacquiao, who grew up in abject poverty to become one of the most popular and famous people in his country thanks to his historical boxing exploits, has all but sewn up a senate seat following Monday's national elections. With a little more than 94 percent of the vote counted, Pacquiao was in seventh place with 15,319,491 votes, according to Filipino news site Rappler.com.
The Filipino senate has 24 members with 12 seats up for election every three years. The top 12 vote-getters will be elected to six-year terms, and Pacquiao was nearly 3 million votes ahead of the 12th-place candidate, who had 13,579,603 votes, according to Rappler.com. Pacquiao was running in a field that had about 50 candidates vying for the 12 seats.
The results of the election won't become official for about a week, but Pacquiao, who has represented his home province of Sarangani in the House of Representatives since 2010, appears on his way to a new job.
Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) put on a vintage display in the ring April 9 in Las Vegas, easily outpointing Timothy Bradley Jr. in their third meeting. Before the fight, Pacquiao, boxing's only eight-division world titleholder, said it would be the last bout of his glorious 21-year career. He reiterated that after the fight, although he did leave the door open slightly for an eventual ring return.
But he said a lot would depend on the outcome of the election. Pacquiao, who has spent the past month campaigning hard across the Philippines, said the work in the senate would be much more time-consuming than it is in the congress.
"After this fight I have already said that my mind is to focus on my job," Pacquiao said three days before he beat Bradley. "If I win a senate seat, I have a big responsibility, and I need to focus on that."
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, Pacquiao's longtime promoter, told ESPN.com on Tuesday that he believed that, with the election victory, Pacquiao was done with boxing.
"I texted him congratulating him," said Arum, who said he would speak to Pacquiao on the phone when Arum is in Hong Kong this weekend for a fight he is promoting. "I'll talk to him when I get there, because it will be easier being in the same time zone. But my feeling is that he's been elected to a very, very important position in the Filipino government. So he owes an obligation to the people to work on his government responsibilities, and that doesn't give him time to screw around and train for a fight the way he has to. You can't do that.
"Being a congressman is one thing. There are like 400-plus congressmen, so if he does his job for his constituency, he can take time off and train for a fight. But now he's been elected to nationwide office, and he has no specific constituency. The entire people of the Philippines are his constituents, and he owes an obligation to them to handle business."
Arum said he did not see Pacquiao even coming back for a rematch with Floyd Mayweather, who beat him last May via unanimous decision. It was a dud of a fight, but also the richest in boxing history, generating some $600 million and shattering every revenue record, including for total revenue, pay-per-view buys and live gate.
"I don't think so," Arum said of the possible rematch. "My mindset is that it's over. When it's over, it's over. People say fighters always change their minds, but this is a different situation. If a guy like Sugar Ray Leonard retires and two months later decides to come back because he's bored, he can do that. Manny can't do that, because he has plenty to do and an important job.
"Not only does he have an extraordinarily time-consuming job, Manny has to take time to learn how to do it and how to work day to day with the 23 other members of the senate."