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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, September 10, 2016
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Pacquiao reveals
retirement anguish

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.

"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," Pacquiao told the media.

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 said. "It was no surprise."

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.

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 said.. "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 Mack Center.

Mexican-American Vargas says he is aiming to avenge Pacquiao's numerous victories over Mexican fighters during his career.

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.*AFP


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