Manny Pacquiao hints at retirement ahead of Ugas clash
The eight-division world champion says “everything is at stake” in what could be his final fight, and promises a “spectacular performance”.
Manny Pacquiao has hinted at hanging up his gloves after his fight against Yordenis Ugas later this month.
The eight-division world champion was scheduled to challenge Errol Spence for the WBC and IBF welterweight world titles on 21 August, before the American was forced to pull out with an eye injury.
Pacquiao will instead fight for Ugas’ WBA belt, and in an exclusive interview with sports betting website Betway has promised to "finish the race" with a spectacular showing.
"I've never given predictions," he says. “I always climb the ring ready and prepared for everything.
"Everything is at stake as this might be my last fight. I might as well finish the race with a spectacular performance.
"Legacies are subjective to the minds of the fans. Of course, a win for me after so long out would be very grand for my country and family."
Pacquiao has not fought since he beat Keith Thurman to claim the WBA belt in July 2019. He was later stripped of the title for inactivity, with the belt later being won by Ugas, who Pacquiao challenges on 21 August.
Now 42, Pacquiao admits that he needs longer to recover in between fights than he did in his prime, but insists that he still loves training and is as inspired as ever.
"I feel great. My team has full confidence in my capabilities even at 42 years old and they note that I still have what it takes to face elite caliber opponents," Pacquiao says.
"Although the recuperation period of a 42-year-old may not be the same as a 25-year-old fighter, I still love what I am doing. I'm enjoying training and I'm learning more about myself every day.
"Everything is top secret, of course. I'm training and challenging myself daily and I am inspired to perform at my best, owing to the fact that this might be my last fight.”
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s legendary trainer, echoes the Filipino’s belief that he has what it takes to reclaim the WBA title.
"Without divulging our fight strategy, I will say, as in every camp, the key to Manny’s success will be to bring in the best Manny Pacquiao,” Roach says. “In training camp, the one thing we can control is Manny’s training regimen and condition.
"You bring in the best Manny Pacquiao in the ring, and you already have the opposition at a disadvantage.
"Most of Manny’s opponents are surprised by his speed and movement. They are really surprised by his power. Video tape of past fights can only tell you so much. When you are facing Manny inside the ring, reality can be quite a wakeup call. Just ask Keith Thurman."
Having first started working with Pacquiao back in 2001, Roach has witnessed first-hand the Filipino’s rise through the ranks to become one of the greatest fighters of all time.
He says that even at the age of 42 and possibly approaching his final fight, Pacquiao is in fantastic shape.
"Manny is looking great,” Roach says. “As usual, he came into camp in great condition thanks to the hard work he put in the Philippines.
"After his first day working out at Wild Card – a two-and a-half-hour session – he lifted his shirt and showed me his six-pack and said, I’m still here, Freddie. He is the hardest working athlete I have ever trained.
"He does have God-given assets, but even still, you cannot take those assets for granted and Manny certainly doesn’t. Manny has worked hard his whole life. He is a fighter inside and outside the ring. He is a product of strong beliefs, discipline, and work ethic. He maintains his physical and mental condition daily. He is never out of shape.
"Between training camps, he plays hours of basketball daily. He lives a productive life as a public servant. He enjoys his family. He has diverse interests. In combination, that makes for a healthy lifestyle."
Pacquiao’s legacy will always be inextricably linked to that of Floyd Mayweather who he met in one of the biggest fights of all time in May 2015.
Mayweather won on points, but that fact that the fight happened when both men – and particularly Pacquiao – were past their peak means debate continues over which was the superior fighter.
Roach insists that despite Pacquiao’s defeat in that record-setting bout, his legacy is greater than Mayweather’s due to the quality of the opponents he’s faced throughout his career.
"Manny is one of the greatest fighters of all time," he says. "Look at the roster of Hall of Famers he beat when they were still at their peak; and many were world champions when he fought them.
"Take nothing away from Floyd, no one ever beat him, but if you did a little digging into when he fought a lot of them, I think you will see a difference overall in the quality of Manny's victories."
Mayweather recently fought YouTube star Logan Paul in an exhibition match, and Roach has revealed a conversation that he and Pacquiao had with Paul following that bout.
"We had fun with Logan when he visited. He seems like a good guy," he says.
"After watching Manny work out, he said he was glad he fought Floyd instead of Manny. We liked hearing that! I thought Logan did well against Floyd."
Pacquiao’s impending retirement means Roach’s time training one of the greatest fighters ever is also soon to come to an end.
With 12 world titles in eight weight classes, a BWAA Fighter of the Decade Award and several years at the top of the sport, the pair have undoubtedly been one of the greatest fighter-trainer duos in boxing history.
Roach admits that he’ll be disappointed when Pacquiao does decide to call time on his career, but is proud of what they’ve achieved during their time together.
"Twenty years ago, Manny and I met. He weighed 122 pounds, and barely spoke English,” Roach says.
"After one round on the mitts, we started a bond that has only become stronger. Our relationship has evolved. We are the best of friends outside the ring and partners inside the gym. It has been a hell of a ride.
"I am very lucky to have a lasting and loyal friend like Manny. I will be a little sad when he retires from boxing because I won’t be seeing him as much as I do now. But I also will be happy that he will be moving onto bigger things back in the Philippines where he has done so much for his people.
"He takes his role as a public servant very seriously. I am so proud of him."