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Pacquiao prepares for career finale

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Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley pose with the promoter Bob Arum in Last Vegas on Wednesday. AFP

Manny Pacquiao promised to deliver an action-packed finale to his 21-year boxing career on Friday as he prepares to climb into the ring for the last time. The 37-year-old boxing superstar takes on Tim Bradley in Las Vegas on Saturday, in what he says will be his final fight before retiring.
 


The atmosphere was electric as Pacquiao and Bradley squared up in front of thousand fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday.

Pacquiao hopes to end an illustrious career in style, with a memorable display against the 32-year-old Tim Bradley, who defeated him after a controversial split decision in 2012.

Pacquiao won the rematch by unanimous decision two years later.

"Expect more action that the last fights we had," he said.

Bradley, who has teamed up with veteran trainer Teddy Atlas, knows he will face a powerful onslaught: "He's going to come out like a bat out of hell and try to take my head off."

Pacquiao earned a staggering $150 million from his last fight, which he lost to Mayweather last year. On Saturday he will take another $20 million.

Will this be Pacquiao's last fight?

Pundits are speculating over his announced retirement, and say it is still unsure whether he will one day return to the ring.

Pacquiao himself has stated that this will be his last fight, but has also declined to definitively rule out a comeback in the future.

"I cannot say that I'm not going to come back," he said, explaining that his mindset may change once he faces up to life without the sport.

"I don't know how I'll feel when I hang up my gloves."

Pacquiao’s entourage, including his long-time trainer Freddie Roach and the veteran promoter Bob Arum, believe he may return.

Arum thinks a spectacular victory over Bradley on Saturday could convince Pacquiao to prolong his career.

 A national hero

Pacquiao has become a national hero in the Philippines, where he plans to concentrate on a political career when he retires.

He is already a two-term congressman, and is now running for a Senate seat in the May elections.

A devout Christian, he attracted media controversy in February when he described homosexuals as "worse than animals".

The remarks sparked outrage among gay and lesbian activists, and came at a financial cost, as several sponsors cancelled their agreements with the boxing icon.

But Pacquiao says the saga did not disrupt his training.

"There were no distractions," he said.

For the ten-times world champion, Saturday’s fight will be a chance to draw attention back to his boxing skills, which took him from cardboard boxes in a shantytown to a seat in his country's House of Representatives.

"It's really important for me to win this fight, to win convincingly. It’s part of my legacy."