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Manny Pacquiao Using Religion to Hype Fight vs. Timothy Bradley: Insulting or Typical?

Over the last week Manny Pacquiao has floated the idea that he may retire after his June bout versus Timothy Bradley. Given his stature and all that he means to the sport of boxing, even the prospect of something like that happening is staggering.

Problem is, it doesn’t really seem like the Filipino champion is being too authentic with this random retirement talk. During a recent military ceremony, here is how he justified the fact that he’s contemplating hanging up his gloves:

"It's not right that I share God's word and at the same time hurt other people," Pacquiao said

"I've gained more than enough blessings these past years so I think it's time for me to return the favor.”     

Fair enough. On its face, that logic is understandable and makes a lot of sense. Boxing is clearly a violent and dangerous sport, and anyone who has suddenly become conflicted about doing damage onto others because of religion would obviously have a lot of trouble justifying participating in a boxing match. Unfortunately, once you dig a little deeper into Pacquiao’s comments – they start to lose a lot of their meaning.

First and foremost, if Pacquiao is truly considering giving up boxing because of his beliefs, why would he proceed with his June fight against Bradley? In theory, someone who doesn’t want to “share God’s word and at the same time hurt other people” would probably want to stop hurting people as soon as possible, not after the next scheduled massive payday. Furthermore, if he doesn’t want to inflict pain onto another person but at the same time doesn’t want to leave the folks whose livelihoods depend on this match in the lurch, why not pick a more formidable foe? Someone who can defend himself and make it a tougher match than Bradley could ever hope to?

Again, you never want to doubt a person’s genuineness unless you have proof that they’re being disingenuous – but Pacquiao’s position makes no sense.

More likely than not, Pacquiao is simply trying to hype up his coming fight with Bradley. By dangling the prospect of it being his last match ever, the Filipino champion instantly makes this a must-see attraction instead of the largely eh show it would be otherwise. And it’s not like boxers trying all sorts of creative ways to boost enthusiasm for future fights is something new. This has been going on since the Sweet Science’s inception, and it’s been especially kicked into high gear over the last decade as passion for boxing as a whole has declined.

For all we know, Pacquiao may come out of his house tomorrow and retire on the spot. He might cite his new dislike towards inflicting pain onto others as the reason for that retirement and prove all us doubters wrong. But unless he does that, his latest retirement talk feels like nothing more than an attention ploy.

Is it insulting that Pacquiao is using religion for seemingly no other reason than to promote a fight, or is it pretty much what you’ve come to expect from this generation of fighters?

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