Welterweight boxing star Manny Pacquiao is in training for his next bout with Errol Spence Jr. next month in the boxing ring. But the champion boxer looks closer and closer to a fight in the political ring for the top spot as president of his country, the Philippines.
Fueling that speculation is Pacquiao's recent criticism of the country's current President Rodrigo Duterte, a member of his own party. Pacquiao, already a senator and former supporter, accused Duterte of corruption and of being soft on Communist China's aggressiveness in the South China Sea. Just weeks later, Pacquiao was ousted as leader of his ruling party.
Pacquiao has said he probably won't announce whether he'll run for president until after this title fight with Spence next month. But he has compared his potential run to the sport that made him famous.
"I didn't become a boxer to fight in 4-rounders or 10-rounders. I boxed to become a world champion," he told ABS-CBN News. Pacquiao, a vocal and devout Christian, went on to say, "If God wills it, I will do my job should I get there."
Senator Pacquiao even hinted at a possible campaign platform: "The days of corrupt governance will be numbered should I become president. That's a promise."
The next presidential election is not til May 2022. Duterte's six-year term ends at that time, and he can't run again because of term limits. But he's had hopes of seeing his daughter win his spot along with the idea of getting himself elected as her vice-president. She is leading in the polls right now, with Pacquiao in fifth place among potential candidates.
A big win in the ring against Spence, an undefeated welterweight world champion who is ten years younger than Pacquiao, would give Pacquiao's presidential run a decided boost. As boxing fans know, never count out Manny Pacquiao. He won't be relying on prevailing or political winds alone to carry him to victory in either fight.