Boxing icon and Philippine senator Manny Pacquiao accepted a nomination to run for president of the Philippines, Reuters reported on Sunday.
Pacquaio accepted a nomination from the PDP-Laban party, which held its national assembly in Quezon City, to run in the 2022 elections. The election is in May.
"I am a fighter and I will always be a fighter inside and outside the ring," Pacquiao, 42, said in accepting the nomination, via Reuters. "In my whole life, I have not backed out of a fight. Because in the name of principle, the nation's pride, I stand reaffirmed and strong."
Pacquiao was elected congressman of Sarangani in 2010 and as senator in 2016. He is the only eight-division world champion in boxing’s history and is one of the world's highest-paid athletes, per Forbes.
The nomination has long been suspected, and intensifies the clash between Pacquiao and current president Rodrigo Duterte, previously a close ally. The legendary boxer has been critical of Duterte's position on China and his record on fighting corruption. Weeks after making the public pronouncements, Pacquiao was voted out as the ruling party's leader.
The constitution prevents Duterte from running for a second six-year term, but he can run for a lower position. He was nominated for vice president, a move some believe is a ploy to stay in power. President and vice president do not run on the same ticket in the Philippines; they are voted upon separately on election day.
Pacquiao claims corruption in government
Pacquiao, who grew up on poverty before a 26-year boxing career, claimed officials in the Phillippine government are corrupt and "nearing imprisonment." He said during the nomination their time is up, and wrote in a tweet it was time government served "with integrity, compassion and transparency."
I boldly accept the challenge of running as PRESIDENT of the Philippines. We need progress. We need to win against poverty. We need government to serve our people with integrity, compassion and transparency. The time is now. I am ready to rise to the challenge of leadership. 🇵🇭 pic.twitter.com/suN1zFTxyW
— Manny Pacquiao (@MannyPacquiao) September 19, 2021
It seems unlikely Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KOs) would continue his boxing career if elected next year. He has so far been noncommittal about a decision either way. His last fight was a loss via unanimous decision to WBA super welterweight title holder Yordenis Ugas in Las Vegas last month. Shortly after the loss he said it "may" be the end to his fighting in the ring.