Manny Pacquiao knew when he hung up his gloves in April that his retirement wasn’t for good.
“I [felt] lonely because when you think about the sport that you love, [that] you’re no longer active in … I [thought] over and over again that boxing still loves me,” Pacquiao said.
“So, why [should] I stop my boxing career? So, I changed my mind and decided to continue my journey.”
Pacquiao, 37, on Thursday restarted the career he said he was retiring from following his April 9 unanimous-decision victory over Timothy Bradley Jr.
Then, his focus was winning election to the Philippines Senate. With that accomplished, he figured out a way to fulfill his political responsibilities and effectively train for another world-title fight.
At a news conference in Beverly Hills, Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 knockouts) formally announced his Nov. 5 comeback bout at Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas against World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs).
A record eight-division world champion, Pacquiao has won or successfully defended that specific belt six times.
“I want that belt,” Pacquiao said when asked why he selected Vargas. “Plus, it’s my first fight as a Senator.”
Vargas, 27, claimed the title in March with a ninth-round technical knockout of Sadam Ali, and says the challenge of fighting Pacquiao could settle an old score.
As a young boxer, Vargas said he was stung as Pacquiao built his reputation as the “Mexicutioner” with destructive victories over Mexican legends Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales.
“I will beat him Nov. 5. He’s the older fighter, I’m the younger fighter — the same position he was in when he beat Morales and Barrera,” Vargas said. “Those were my idols, but I said to myself, ‘I’m going to be in the position [to fight Pacquiao one day]...
“I’m fighting for that kid in me who says, ‘You beat my idols, and now I’m going to beat you.’”
After disappointing many with a lackluster 2015 loss by decision against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the richest fight in history, Pacquiao recovered from a shoulder injury against Mayweather to look impressive against Bradley.
Fighting Vargas, Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said, will allow his fighter to remain sharp and in position for a 2017 major bout. Those candidates include the retired Mayweather, Canelo Alvarez or unbeaten junior-welterweight champion Terence Crawford.
Pacquiao has already begun training in the Philippines, where Roach will join him shortly, and he’ll return to complete preparations at Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood two weeks before the bout.
“Morning, I jog. Then, I go straight to the Senate. After committee hearings and the decision, I go to the gym and train. Then I go home and rest,” Pacquiao said. “I have perfect attendance.”