Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Senator was smiling, looking fit and trim and feeling jovial to be sure.

After the 37-year-old ring warrior retired on April 9 following his third fight with Timothy Bradley — an impressive victory — he knew, possibly in a matter of minutes, that he had made a mistake.

“First, when I hung up my gloves and I realized, I feel lonely because when you are thinking that the sport you love, you’re no longer active, I felt lonely and thinking about it over and over that boxing still likes me. Boxing loves me and I love boxing,” Pacquiao said. “So why should I stop my boxing career? That’s why I changed my mind. So I decided to continue my journey as a boxer.”

This will not be a one-shot deal, either, says the man who knows Pacquiao better than most, longtime trainer, friend and confidant Freddie Roach.

“Working in the Senate is not easy while you’re training,” said Pacquiao, a freshman senator in the Philippines. “You manage your time and that’s what I did in training for this fight.”

Pacquiao won’t have to juggle two jobs for at least a few weeks, with the Senate now out of session. He arrived in Los Angeles over the weekend, eager to finish final preparations for yet another fight in a pro career that has stretched 21 years.

What remains to be seen is how eager boxing fans are to see him against a relatively unknown boxer who isn’t given much of a chance to beat him.

“We’ve dealt with distractions, but that’s what he likes,” Roach said. “A full plate is great for him, so now we need time for the senator, the trainee, and for basketball until four weeks before the fight. But I’ll make sure everything’s in place and he’ll have time to get ready for the fight.”

Roach said Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) is the only man he would uproot his life for like this.

Most of those training sessions were at night, as Pacquiao fulfilled a campaign pledge to be in the Senate each day it was in session.

“This is the best I’ve seen Manny in a long time,” Roach said. “He’s been a lot more aggressive. The old Manny Pacquiao is coming out.”

Pacquiao’s star has faded some since he lost in boxing’s richest fight ever to Floyd Mayweather Jr., and putting him in the ring with Vargas is a tough sell. Arum has added three title fights to the undercard and is going on his own in trying to sell it on pay-per-view.

As part of that sales job, Arum is holding out the possibility that Pacquiao will fight unbeaten Terrence Crawford next spring should he beat Vargas.
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