Filipino boxing champion and parliamentarian Manny Pacquiao turns from boxing to help his country further
Following his decisive victory and announced retirement in April, no-one knows whether Manny Pacquiao will fight again, not even himself, and yet the way he won exemplified why the boxing world named him best fighter of the 2000's first decade.
A shoulder injury exacerbated during his loss to Floyd Mayweather in May 2015 led to an 11 month recovery and a slow start against Timothy Bradley Jr. before a neck-jerking punch awakened the five foot five giant, who then knocked down Bradley twice.
By unanimous decision from the judges, 116 to 110, the grinning 37-year-old raised the WBO welterweight title belt that Bradley took from him in 2012, then called time on his career after 58 wins, including 38 knockouts.
"As of now I am retired," Manny said after the fight. "I am going to go home and think about it, but I want to be with my family. I want to serve the people [of the Philippines]."
Manny has used his status as the world's second highest paid athlete of 2015 (according to Forbes), to be one of his sport's most generous people, as illustrated when he gave away $80 million, half of his Mayweather fight earnings, in May 2015.
He has built a hospital and two churches in the Philippines with his own money, and has spent tens of millions to twice win a congressional seat in the lower house of Philippine's parliament.
Manny is widely expected to win a senate seat in Philippine's parliament in May 2016 and eventually to run for President. Many suspect that financing these campaigns could encourage Manny to box again.
"I have no fear in my life, I don't fear losing," Manny told The Telegraph back in 2009. "Why feel fear in your heart when you believe in God?"
This courage has arisen from humble beginnings and his personal relationship with God, reminding him that win or lose, there are more important things in life.
“I have no fear in my life, I don’t fear losing”Manny left his broken home at the age of 14 as his mother could no longer afford to support him and his five siblings. He lived on the streets of Manila before meeting the owner of a gym, Ben Delgado, who took a special interest in Manny and agreed to train him.
"He always had a big heart, in and out of the ring, and even back then, he wanted to be champion of the world," Ben says.
Manny was boxing professionally at 17 and earning $2 a fight, which he sent home to his mother.
As his success grew, Manny admits he strayed from God for many years, but never forgot the way his mother brought him up to understand the importance of faith in God.
He admitted in 2015 on Filipino TV show Tapatan ni Tunying that in 2010 his marriage to Jinkee was in trouble and it was trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ personally that saved his life and his marriage.
Manny recalls, "I was drinking, gambling, womanising and always swearing."
Their fighting was so serious that Jinkee once threatened him with a knife while he pulled out a gun.
That all changed when he trusted in Jesus as Lord and Saviour later that year.
"I'm happy because I found the right way to salvation," Manny told The Guardian in 2014.
"We are required to be born-again [of the spirit], all of us. Christ said unless we are born-again we cannot enter the kingdom of God. So it's very important to me. Jesus Christ said: 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father [God] except through me.' There is no other way. The only way is through Jesus."
"While we thank the Lord for all His temporal gifts, we are not to depend on them, even slightly. Jesus Christ is our only need in life."
Although he was continually on the road for fights, training and publicity appearances, Manny remained faithful in attending church regularly.
"Win or lose, I will pray at the corner to thank God for all his blessings," he says.
At a gathering he asked the crowd: "What about you, did you count your blessings? Remember to thank God for all that He has done. He will give you your needs."
Always remembering that his physical ability and wealth comes from God, he never turns the poor away when they come begging for money and food at his house.
"God has given me a gift and it is my duty to share the fruits of this gift with my people," he says.
"Before, my ultimate dream was just to be champion in the Philippines. But look at me now. This is because I lifted it all up to the Lord [in prayer]," he says.
"I don't want to say I'm the best boxer in the world. I would say I'm a boxer who can fight a good fight against any fighter in the world. All my talent comes from God."•