Pacquiao quits boxing for politics

World boxing icon Manny Pacquiao announced his retirement from what he called the “greatest sport in the world” on Wednesday to focus on a run for the Philippines presidency, the biggest fight of his career.

In a 14-minute video posted on Facebook and Twitter, “Pacman”, as he is known in the sport, thanked fans worldwide before closing the curtain on a 26-year boxing career that earned him world titles in eight different divisions, which to this day remains unmatched.

“I just heard the final bell. Boxing is over,” said the 42-year-old Pacquiao, now a Philippines senator, drawing a flood of reactions from fans ranging from disbelief to gratitude.

Pacquiao, whose fast footwork and blistering speed of punches made him one of the top offensive fighters in the sport’s history, said he was at peace with his decision, adding it was the turn of other Filipino boxers to shine.

“As I hang up my boxing gloves, I would like to thank the whole world especially the Filipino people for supporting Manny Pacquiao,” he said, fighting back tears.

Pacquiao came from impoverished beginnings as a ship stowaway who started fighting on the streets as a boy, with prizes of $2 a fight. His net worth was $63 million last year, according to his Philippines statement of assets.

He is widely rated as among the best pound-for-pound fighters in history, better than Muhammad Ali, veteran promoter Bob Arum said in 2010.

George “Ferocious” Kambosos Jr, an Australian world lightweight champion and sparring partner of Pacquiao, expressed his gratitude in a Tweet, saying: “Thank you for everything you did for my Career #Legend.”

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