MANILA, February 23- Philippine boxing hero Manny Pacquiao hinted Monday his long-awaited fight against American Floyd Mayweather could be his last, saying he would head into the May bout with retirement on his mind.
“It is coming close. We will announce it,” the 36-year-old told local television network ABS-CBN with a meek smile when asked about retirement. He gave no further details.
After years of failed negotiations, Pacquiao and Mayweather hammered out a deal to face each other in Las Vegas on May 2 that will finally give fans the chance to see the best “pound-for-pound” fighters of their generation face off.
Pacquiao said he agreed to take a smaller cut of the purse just so the fight could push through.
“If we only thought about our pride, there would not be a fight. If we had equal pay, the fight would not have pushed through so for the fight to push through, I agreed to it,” he said.
US media has reported that the undefeated Mayweather, who turns 38 this week, will receive 60 percent of the purse and stands to make some $120 million with the Filipino taking $80 million.
But more importantly for fight fans, the match will finally show which of the two boxers can really be called the best.
Pacquiao has held world championships belts in an unprecedented eight divisions, and will go into the Mayweather fight with a record of 57-5, with two draws and 38 knockouts.
Mayweather has a 47-0 record with 26 knockouts. He is homing in on the iconic 49-0 record of 1950s legend Rocky Marciano, who retired as an undefeated heavyweight champion.
Pacquiao, a devout Christian, said he was confident of winning because he had God on his side.
“God is with me and I believe the Lord will deliver him into my hands,” he said.
Pacquiao, who last year embarked on a much-criticised professional basketball career with a playing-coaching role for a Philippine team, said Monday he intended to play again in the local competition this week.
He said he expected to then head to the United States late in the week to resume full training under the guidance of his long-time mentor, Freddie Roach.
Pacquiao reiterated that he actually enjoyed being rated below Mayweather by oddsmakers in Las Vegas.
“I like being the underdog. I am more motivated,” he told ABS-CBN.