MANILA, Philippines—What his mother failed to accomplish, God apparently succeeded with Manny Pacquiao.
It took a divine vision, by way of a dream sometime in January, to make the Filipino ring icon change his ways and mull early retirement.
Pacquiao, widely regarded as the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter, said that God appeared to him in a dream and asked him to retire soon.
“I will not stay long in boxing because He said: ‘You have done enough. You have made yourself famous but this is harmful,’” Pacquiao told dzMM radio in Monday’s interview that was also broadcast over the network’s Teleradyo show.
As early as 2009, Aling Dionesia, Pacquiao’s mother, had been badgering her son to hang up his gloves to avoid further harm.
Pacquiao, who has won eight titles in as many weight divisions and has been named Fighter of the Decade, would grudgingly accede—only to have fights lined up for him one after the other by promoter Bob Arum.
On June 9, Pacquiao will again climb the ring and stake his World Boxing Organization welterweight crown against American light welterweight challenger Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
And when he does, Pacquiao will be a new man—rid of his vices and preaching the Bible.
Asked if his newfound religious fervor would affect his boxing prowess, Pacquiao replied: “I will do my work inside the ring.”
Meaning, he would still wage war against the unbeaten Bradley, who is undoubtedly in his prime at 28 with a 28-win, 0-loss, 1-draw record.
The 33-year-old Pacquiao, owner of a 54-3-2 slate, who declined to reveal how many more fights he would have before stepping down, said he believed he had been chosen by God to use his fame to spread the Christian message.
“When I speak, a lot of people listen,” said Pacquiao, who has translated his sports fame into huge riches, a show biz career and election to Congress as representative of Sarangani province.
Having given up gambling and late-night partying as part of his covenant with God, Pacquiao said he would make a major announcement on a religious note later this month, or before he plunges into serious training for the pay-per-view fight with Bradley.
And if Pacquiao does choose preaching over fighting, chances of his much-awaited megabuck bout with another unbeaten American, Floyd Mayweather Jr. (42-0), might go kaput.
Fans have long sought a Pacquiao-Mayweather matchup. The pair were in negotiations for a mega-fight to have been held later this year but talks fell through. Reports from Roy Luarca and AFP