Manny Pacquiao: The Next President?

Written by: Ryan

Edited by: Jagat

Visual by: Macy

On August 21, Manny Pacquiao challenged Yordenis Ugas for the world welterweight championship, but came up short after the twelfth round. Despite Pacquiao being favored to win the fight, the Cuban defended his title by unanimous decision with the three judges scoring 115-113, 116-112, and 116-112. Pacquiao, now 42, adds another loss to his record, at 62-8-2. How will this fight affect his legacy?

Against Ugas, Pacquiao was much slower than usual, both on his feet and with his punches. He was clearly outclassed and overpowered. After 77 professional fights over a more than 20 year long career, many fans fear his retirement.

After the fight, he apologized to his fans, thanking them for their support, and when the question came about the future of his career, he responded, “In my heart, I want to continue [to] fight … But I have to consider, also, my body.” Many speculate that after a disappointing loss such as this, it is time for Pacquiao to make a pivot from boxing to something more.

For decades, Pacquiao has been an inspiration to his entire country. Usually smaller than his opponents and with a shorter reach, he was often considered the underdog. But when knocked down, he always got back up, and in the face of adversity, he always persevered. He was the symbol of the Filipino spirit. But as a boxer, this impact has always been limited. His most recent loss may be the catalyst that pushes him to further pursue his political career. Possibly into a presidential campaign. 

As the incumbent president, he would be the most influential person in the country. Many argue that with him in office, the administration would be much less corrupt. As Pacquiao has already made millions over his boxing career, greed will not overcome him like it has done to many other politicians, plaguing the nation and stunting its development. Additionally, Pacquiao already has the backing of the whole Philippines population, and could be a centripetal force, uniting the country.

His critics, however, say that he is not qualified to be in office. They point out that boxing causes deterioration in the brain, which may affect his decision making and could influence the country negatively. Some have even gone as far as to say that he bought his degree at the University of Makati. This claim however has been heavily disputed by several sources, including the university itself, saying that he even interrupted a tour in Japan to attend classes.

As a public figure running for president, similar to Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, Pacquiao will naturally acquire a large sum of votes, but it is often pointed out that these are underserved. People would automatically vote for him because of his boxing, rather than make an educated decision. Additionally, those who oppose him claim that because of his devout Catholicism, he would erase the democracy’s fundamental separation of church and state. While his religious views could garner a lot of support as a result of the Philippines 80% Catholic population, the rising support for the LGBT+ community could be hindered because of traditional homophobic catholic beliefs.

Overall, Pacquiao will certainly receive a big chunk of the votes, and has a shot at winning the election. As a boxer he has united the country, but only time will tell what his impact will be should he become president.