Manny Pacquiao has already achieved what most of his countrymen can only dream of: lifting himself out of wrenching poverty, securing a future for his children and becoming a hero to Filipinos the world over.
Not content with just winning in the ring, Pacquiao also set about making his mark in politics.
But after his stunning loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas on Saturday, the 34-year-old is facing some of the toughest questions of his remarkable 17-year career: does his future lay in boxing, politics, show business, religion, or perhaps there’s even a new challenge on the horizon?
“Being the king of boxing, being the highest paid athlete in boxing ... it goes with the territory,” boxing analyst Ed Tolentino said. “For Pacquiao, the fame was too much to handle. There was just too many things on his plate other than boxing.”
Pacquiao was elected to Congress from his Sarangani province in 2010, and has announced he will run for re-election next year.
Politicians, minor actors and an assortment of hangers-on formed his huge entourage.
“You only need a Ferris wheel and his training camp would have been a circus,” Tolentino said.
The most popular face in town, he turned to crooning his own songs. His picture endorsed countless products. He’s a regular on TV, and hosts his own show. He’s made a movie. Another passion is cock fighting, a traditional past time in the Philippines.
Showbiz “takes a lot of time, a lot of energy. You have to prepare for these shows,” said boxing commentator Ronnie Nathanielsz. “(Pacquiao) loses focus because he has so many things to worry about and attend to.”
Saturday’s loss to Marquez, whom he had beaten twice and drawn once, only made the question more urgent, although Pacquiao made no mention of a possible retirement.
“Among boxers, they don’t have the word retirement in their dictionary. It’s so hard to admit that all of sudden it’s over, especially for Pacquiao,” Tolentino said.
“His demotion was from the penthouse to the doghouse,” he added. “I think really there has to be a lot of soul searching. ... He has to consult his family, his real entourage.”