Eight-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao has served as an inspiration to many athletes in the field of combat sports.
This is not only because of his rags to riches story, but also for just being that ferocious and hardworking boxer inside the ring.
But for Team Lakay’s featherweight contender Edward Kelly, one of the many athletes that sees “Pacman” as a role model, the boxer-turned-Senator has nothing left to prove in his boxing career.
“I think retirement might be the best for Manny. He has done everything inside the ring” Kelly said.
“He was the greatest at his peak. There are a lot of young, hungry fighters coming up, and boxing is a young man’s game.”
Pacquiao, who was 40 years old then, last saw action in the ring July last year, where he defeated American Keith Thurman by split decision for the WBA super world welterweight title.
After that fight, several names popped up for Pacquiao’s possible matchup, with Terence Crawford as the favored opponent by Top Rank promoter Bob Arum
Though Kelly is still confident that Pacquiao can unleash his A-game against younger opponents, taking another challenge would seem a double-edged sword for the 41-year-old boxer.
“I totally understand why he continues to fight, and he’s just an even bigger hero for continuing to carry Philippine boxing on the global stage. But if he wins, critics will say he’s just fighting for the money. If he loses, they will say he’s already old,” said Kelly, who holds a 12-8 professional MMA record.
“We all come into sports wanting to be great. We want to be heroes for our people. But Manny is a legend because he was able to achieve that. He did it through hard work and sheer willpower. He is my inspiration. He brought his family out of poverty with his own sweat. Nothing can change that.”
Whether Pacquiao accepts another bout or not, one thing remains the same for Kelly: Pacquiao is the greatest boxer of all time and his name will be forever etched in history.
Meanwhile, Kelly, who eyes to redeem himself from dropping three of his last four fights in ONE Championship, continues to train with his stablemates in La Trinidad, Benguet.
Team Lakay will see action soon in the Circle in a yet to be announced card, ONE founder and CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced recently.