Pound-for-pound all-time boxing great Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2) has rarely been able to focus exclusively on just boxing throughout his 21-year career. As a child, he turned the distraction of hunger to motivation, literally putting the gloves on to earn pesos and buy rice and stave off starvation.
Once he became a worldwide success, Pacquiao’s training camps still were usually mired in one sort of serious distraction or another. From the drama of hastily-assembled and late-starting training camps split over continents (much to the consternation of coaches), to his family often being under threat of kidnapping, to personal scandal and balancing a second full-time career as a national elected official in his native Philippines, Manny Pacquiao has seemed to always go into the ring fighting several battles at once.
In Las Vegas on November 5th, the 37 year-old warrior comes out of a short-lived retirement to fight WBO welterweight champ Jessie Vargas (27-1), seemingly with the express purpose of seeing how effectively he can juggle multiple concerns and careers. “This is my chance to make history by becoming the first sitting senator to win a world title,” Pacquiao recently told BoxingScene.
Sitting senators winning professional fights isn’t a thing because it doesn’t make much sense for it to be. The demands of either job on their own should be enough to occupy all the time and energy any normal person has to spare.
Pacquiao has made a lot of boxing history in his legendary career. Now that he’s a senator, he says he wants to make history by connecting completely disparate and individually demanding things.
Given his split-attention, the question has to be to what extent does Pacquiao have his head in boxing? Once more, we’re about to find out how well Manny Pacquiao can box when he hasn’t been able to devote all of his attention to the sport.
The speedy power-puncher insists that he and his coach Freddie Roach have well-thought strategies for the much larger, much younger Vargas, citing his successful approach to beating Oscar De La Hoya in 2008.
Pacquiao had a significant youth advantage in that contest, however, one he won’t have this weekend against the 27 year-old Vargas. Roach has also emphasized that he and Pacquiao have worked around his Senatorial duties, effectively.
Roach insists that Pacquiao is getting his boxing rounds in at roughly 40 per day and his training schedule is shaped around his Senate schedule in Manila. “We never missed a late session,” he said, according to FightNews.
“[Manny] boxed a minimum of 40 rounds a day. Even if he got there at 8, he went at least the 40 rounds.”
Fight News’s story continue, saying, “all reports have him not missing a main senate session, nor a committee meeting, in the lead up to this fight. He trained around his politics, rising at around 6 a.m. for workouts, then staying in committee meetings and main senatorial sessions until, sometimes, as late as 7 or 8 p.m., before going back to train.”
All that paints a picture of a Pacquiao who is currently about politics, first, and boxing, second. He has no doubt put in the physical work during this camp with Roach. But there are still lingering concerns that his mind still seems to be most concerned with his Senate duties.
Fighting is an especially dangerous thing to do when you’re anything less than all-in. Manny Pacquiao has done that successfully for years, however.
On Saturday, nearing his 40’s, he’ll try to do it once more. “When my career finally ends I do not want to look back and wonder if I missed any opportunities. No regrets.”
We'll find out if he regrets splitting time between politics and pugilism when he steps into the ring on November 5th.