Manny Pacquiao will challenge WBC and IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. in Las Vegas on August 21.
What comes next for the 42-year-old fighter and current senator of the Philippines is a matter of great interest.
Pacquiao’s longtime trainer and confidant Freddie Roach said in the summer of 2020 that the plan is for Pacquiao to fight as many as two bouts in 2021.
After these fights, according to Roach, the boxer will focus on running for President of the President in 2022.
“He won’t fight this year,” Roach told Boxing Scene during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
“But if this ever goes away — and I’m not sure it will because it’s getting worse and worse, not better and better — but I think Manny will fight once or twice more before he becomes the president of his country.”
“And then he will retire,” Roach said.
New York-based international news agency Bloomberg reported on June 2 that Pacquiao is “emerging as an obstacle” to the succession plans of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte’s term ends in 2022.
Bloomberg noted that Pacquiao “faces stiff competition for Duterte’s endorsement ahead of the May 2022 vote”.
Other prospective candidates include Sara Duterte-Carpio, the president’s daughter, as well as his aide Senator Christopher “Bong” Go and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
“Yet due to Pacquiao’s star power and wealth, he may be the one candidate who could mount an independent campaign if Duterte backs someone else,” the news agency reported.
“And given both hail from southern Philippines, a competition between their camps risks splitting the vote and opening the door for opposition figures to take the presidency,” it added.
A survey released in April from Pulse Asia Research Inc. found the president’s daughter Duterte-Carpio was the public’s top choice to be the next president.
Pacquiao was in a statistical tie for second place with Marcos Jr., Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso or Isko Moreno, and Senator Grace Poe.
Candidates must formally file their candidacies to run in October 2020.
Boo Chanco of the Philippine Star wrote on June 2 that before Pacquiao’s August 21 fight, Duterte seems to have “knocked him out already… from the presidential race next year”.
Chanco related that Duterte, as party chairman of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban),insisted on convening the PDP-Laban against the wishes of Pacquiao, who is supposed to be its president, on May 31.
Pacquiao issued a memo telling PDP-Laban members to ignore Energy Secretary Al Cusi’s call for a national council meeting.
But Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed Cusi was acting on the instruction of Duterte.
At the May 31 meeting, the PDP-Laban approved a resolution urging Duterte to run for vice president and choose his running mate for president in 2022.
“Manny must be very disappointed over the turn of events. He must have thought Duterte was serious when he called Manny the next president,” Chanco wrote.
Chanco wrote that if Pacquiao wins the August 21 fight “spectacularly, he may get a boost to pursue his political ambitions. If not, it may be a lot tougher.”
“Manny probably has enough money to fund his campaign. But why would he want to deplete his financial assets at a time when he has probably fought his last professional fight?”
Chanco also recalled previous polls showing Pacquiao is not leading in the surveys.
“Duterte must have seen those numbers too, and was emboldened to knock Manny out very early in the game before he got traction. The Dutertes are determined to hang on to Malacañang.
“But Pinoys love underdogs. Manny can paint the Dutertes as big bullies and pick up sympathy votes,” Chanco wrote.
Meanwhile, the Asia Sentinel in a recent report that Pacquiao is “nothing if not a fighter, and one who would be unlikely to settle for second place on someone else’s ticket, a powerless post which is seldom a stepping-stone to the top”.
“He does not lack the ambition to crown his boxing career with the presidency,” the Asian Sentinel wrote.
“There is little to stop Duterte from running for vice-president and so be kingmaker. He swapped roles with daughter Sara to become vice-mayor of Davao in 2010. But is he too old and sick to bother?”
At the May 31 PDP-Laban meeting, it was VP for external affairs Raul Lambino who moved for the adoption of the resolution urging Duterte to run for vice president and appoint the presidential candidate.
Lambino said that the party’s national council was in receipt of several petitions from different local government units pushing for Duterte to run for the vice presidential post in the next national elections.
“The text of this resolution read as follows: ‘Resolution to convince the party chairman, President Rodrigo Duterte, to run as Vice President in the 2022 national elections and for President Rodrigo Duterte to choose his running mate for president,” Lambino said.