Once Ring Magazine‘s pound-for-pound top fighter, Manny Pacquiao is expected to formally announce his retirement from the sport of boxing with his final fight tentatively scheduled for next April. Pacquiao (also known as “Pacman” by the sport’s afficionados) is a boxing legend, and the only fighter in history to have won a world championship belt in 8 weight classes.
Pacquiao has served as an inspiration to citizens of his native Phillipines, as well as an icon for AAPI sports fans in the United States and around the world. Once lauded as standing at the pinnacle of the sport, Pacquiao was heralded as a defiance of the stereotypes that plague Asian and AAPI men. Pacquiao’s ring personality is the very antithesis of those stereotypes: he is brash, aggressive, unpredictable and ferocious, but not always the smartest fighter. Cementing his status as a beloved Filipino icon, Pacquiao has pursued activities focused on political and economic uplift for Filipino people: he is a movie star, a musician, philanthropist and member of the Phillipines’ House of Representatives.
But, perhaps the most exciting aspect of Pacquiao’s career has been the consequences of his team-up with fight promoter Bob Arum. For decades, boxing had progressed by simply ignoring the economies of countries making up nearly half the world. The committed collaboration between Pacquiao and Arum to open the Asian market to the sport of boxing has single-handedly created the Pacific’s now busy boxing hub of Macau, China. In recent years, for example, Pacquiao has eschewed fighting in America and has used his boxing fame and status at the top of the sport to force opponents to fight him in Macau (and to accompany him on lengthy Asian promotional tours preceding the fight), which has brought much-needed international revenue to struggling Pacific economies and has focused greater attention in the sport on Asian fighters. These successful efforts have ushered in the new era of the Asian and Asian American boxer, which includes names such as Zou Shimeng, mixed race Korean-Kazahkstani Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin, and the now-retired Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire.