MANILA, Philippines?Barring an irresistible offer from the camp of Floyd Mayweather Jr., the boxing world may have seen the last of its best pound-for-pound fighter.
Manny Pacquiao dimmed the luster of his homecoming Monday by saying that he was seriously thinking of hanging up his gloves.
?It?s OK for me to retire. No problem with me ? I?ve been in boxing for so long. Since I was 12 years old, I have been fighting in the ring [and] now I?m already 31 years old,? Pacquiao said in Filipino during a press briefing in Malacañang a few hours after he arrived from the United States.
He said his mother, the popular Aling Dionisia, had been begging him to quit boxing, mainly to spare his body from further punishment.
?My mama told me that she would kneel before me if she had to, if only to convince me to stay away from boxing,? the Filipino megastar said. ?Of course, we should respect our parents because without them, we are nothing.?
Door not closed
Ring experts said a fight with Mayweather, an undefeated American, could earn Pacquiao a guaranteed purse of $25 million, not including his share in pay-per-view revenues and gate receipts.
For beating the Ghanaian Joshua Clottey in Texas on March 13, Pacquiao earned at least $12 million.
But while saying that a son should defer to the wishes of his mother, Pacquiao in the same breath indicated he was not closing the door to a megafight with Mayweather or Shane Mosley.
He said that while he was not obliged to fight Mayweather, ?I am open to him fighting me anytime he wants to.?
?I can still fight,? he said.
Pressed further on a fight with Mayweather, Pacquiao said, ?Maybe it won?t come to that. Maybe I?ll announce my retirement.?
Mayweather or Mosley
Mayweather was supposed to have fought Pacquiao in Texas but negotiations fell apart due to the American?s demand for an Olympic-style (random) drug testing.
Mayweather wanted blood tests up to 14 days before the fight. Pacquiao would not agree to testing within 24 days of the fight, saying it would make him weak.
Pacquiao instead signed on to fight Clottey. Mayweather decided to take on Mosley in Las Vegas on May 1.
?He should win against Mosley. If not, Mosley and I will fight,? said Pacquiao, who believes he does not need to fight Mayweather to cement his place in boxing history.
Pacquiao?s statements that he might retire from boxing overshadowed the warm welcome he received from crowds of ordinary Filipinos who waved at him as he rode in a motorcade through Manila.
Looking dapper in a gray vest over a light-blue long-sleeved polo and dark tie, Pacquiao made a courtesy call on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at 10:20 a.m., about five hours after the Philippine Airlines plane that flew him from Los Angeles landed at the airport.
Pacquiao was accompanied on the flight home by his wife Jinkee. They were met at the airport by their children Michael, Jemuel and Princess.
Among those who lined up at the Palace reception hall to welcome Pacquiao and his party was the son of Camarines Sur Rep. Dato Arroyo, Ms Arroyo?s younger son.
?I am [Joshua] Clottey!? the boy exclaimed, raising his fist to mimic Clottey?s defensive stance. Pacquiao responded with a bit of playful sparring with the boy on his way to the music room, where he met with Ms Arroyo and her husband.
As had been the ritual after every Pacquiao victory, he was presented with a cake by Palace chefs. This time, it was three-layered chocolate cake with replicas of a pair of boxing gloves and his championship belt.
?This is just 12 kilos. Good thing I?m still strong,? Pacquiao told cameramen while carrying the cake, drawing laughter.
The meeting with Ms Arroyo came months after Pacquiao joined Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar. He said his decision did not affect his ties with the President.
?There?s no problem. In fact, she has always supported me in my fights,? he said.
Mass in Quiapo
Pacquiao also referred to the possibility that he might quit boxing when he talked with other reporters at New World Hotel in Makati City, where he rested briefly upon his arrival.
Among those who welcomed him was Villar, whose hand Pacquiao raised after they arrived at the hotel.
The other welcomers included Deputy National Security Adviser Luis ?Chavit? Singson and former environment secretary Lito Atienza, who is running for Manila mayor in the May elections.
Villar asked people to respect Pacquiao?s decision to consider a different career path when he retires, referring to Pacquiao?s decision to run for the congressional seat of Sarangani province in May.
?We have to think about his life after boxing and I think he deserves to be elected,? said Villar, who came in his signature orange shirt.
Later in the morning, Pacquiao heard Mass at the packed Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, or the Quiapo Church.
Speaking toward the end of the service, Pacquiao referred to the May elections and said: ?We have our own decisions in life? We all have different beliefs on who we want to be our leader in the elections.?
He added: ?I hope you do not associate boxing with politics. Boxing gives us honor, it is not connected with politics.?
At one point, he said in Filipino: ?Manny Pacquiao will not be a boxer his whole life. I will only be boxing for a short time. I have been in this career for a long time.?
?This is something that the entire family has to meet about and seriously discuss,? he added.
Manileños cheered their champion during the two-hour motorcade under a scorching heat. Pacquiao stood on the cargo hold of an Elf truck, which blared songs associated with him.
Visible in the procession was a mobile billboard of Atienza and his running mate, Bonjay Isip-Garcia.
In the streets, men thumped their chests with their fists to show their feeling of pride while women screamed, ?Pacquiao, I love you.?
The biggest turnout was in Tondo, where residents rushed out of their homes to greet their idol. With reports from Jeannette I. Andrade, Agence France-Presse and Associated Press