Beverly Hills - Manny Pacquiao says he knew almost as soon
as his retirement began that he had made a mistake, revealing that loneliness
and love for the sport had drawn him back into the ring.
The legendary Filipino icon, who hung up his gloves after
what was supposed to be a farewell victory over Timothy Bradley in April, ended
his short-lived retirement in early August.
The 37-year-old fighter is now targeting a slice of the
world welterweight title when he faces World Boxing Organization champion
Jessie Vargas in Las Vegas on November 5.
Pacquiao had initially planned to focus on his political
career after being elected to the Philippines Senate in May.
But politics proved to be no substitute for pugilism in the
eyes of the Filipino great, who showed he had plenty left in the tank with his
stylish win over Bradley five months ago.
"First when I hung up my gloves I realised,"
Pacquiao told AFP on Thursday.
"I felt lonely. And thinking about it over and over, I
thought 'Boxing still likes me. Boxing still loves me.' So why stop my boxing
career? So that's why I decided to continue my journey as a boxer."
- 'No surprise' -
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's long-serving cornerman revealed
the fighter had made up his mind to scrap his retirement before he had even
flown back to the Philippines from Las Vegas following the Bradley bout.
"Before he left for the airport after the last fight,
he told me very clearly 'We will fight again'," Roach told AFP. "It
was no surprise."
The only surprise, Roach said, was the timing.
"I knew that after he became a Senator he would fight
again. I just thought it would be next year."
Also read: Pacquiao confirms fight with Vargas
Pacquiao insists that while his boxing career is now firmly
back under way, he remains committed to politics, maintaining that he has had a
"perfect" attendance record in the Senate since his election.
"I've learned a lot and not only talking about the problems.
The most important thing is common sense," Pacquiao said.
The only challenge has been fitting his fitness regime
around his duties in the Senate.
"In the morning I'll go for a jog and then rest a
little bit, and then start work in the office," he said.
"By 10 o'clock I go to the Senate building and attend
committee meetings. And after the committee meetings, attend the full session.
"And after the session I go straight to the gym, which
is only 500 meters away from the Senate, and then train. After training, back
home and rest."
- Hard worker -
Roach said he had been impressed by Pacquiao's conditioning
after seeing him this week.
"He works out every day. He's in pretty good
shape," he told AFP. "He's the hardest worker I've ever seen."
Many commentators have speculated that Pacquiao views his
election to the Senate as a stepping stone for a presidential run.
Pacquiao dismissed the suggestion however. "That's not
in my mind right now," he said "My focus is to serve honestly, and to
pass laws that will help less fortunate families."
In the near-term though, Pacquiao's gaze is firmly fixed on
his date with Vargas (27-1 with 10 knockouts) at the 19,000-capacity Thomas and
Mexican-American Vargas says he is aiming to avenge
Pacquiao's numerous victories over Mexican fighters during his career.
Pacquiao smiled when asked for his reaction to Vargas's
"This is not a movie. This is not a revenge movie. This
is sport. Do your job and I'll do my job," he said.
As part of his determination to return with a bang, Pacquiao
also ensured that 7,000 tickets for the fight were made available for the
rock-bottom price of $50.
As of Thursday, 2,000 of the tickets had already been sold.
"It's a big challenge for me to get that belt again and
prove that I can still manage serving the people and being a boxer,"
Pacquiao told a press conference on Thursday.
"I want to give back to the fans who've supported me.
I'm selling 7,000 tickets for $50. I want to thank the fans who've supported
me. It's going to be more action than we have before because Vargas is a
champion who loves to fight. And that's the kind of fight I like. So the fans
won't be bored."For
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