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Manny Pacquiao responded to Sunday's shock defeat to Yordenis Ugas by declaring he wants to "continue to fight", but the writing is on the wall that the boxing world has seen the last of the Filipino legend.
Pacquiao might have concealed his battered face behind big sunglasses, but the great champion didn't hide behind excuses or denial after a discouraging unanimous-decision loss to Ugas.
He sounded like a fighter on his way out - and a politician on his way up after the fight.
While the 42-year-old stopped short of announcing his retirement from the sport, Pacquiao's wife provided a telling hint about his future after penning an emotional tribute to him on social media.
“Words cannot express how proud I am of the Man you are,” Jinkee Pacquiao wrote on Instagram, alongside a photo of the couple embracing one another.
“We your family have seen how much you have toiled, (sacrificed) and given of yourself blood sweat and tears since the beginning when you dreamed of becoming world champion.
“You never think of yourself and not afraid to risk your life on the ring time and time again because you love to make the people happy.
“Over the years we have become even more proud to be by your side as you inspire us to be kind giving and helpful to all.
“Win or lose in the ring You are Forever the Champion of our hearts.”
Pacquiao disclosed after the fight that his legs cramped throughout the bout against Ugas, depriving the Filipino of the mobility that has always made his power so dangerous.
But the eight-division world champion still acknowledged the larger fact that was obvious even to most of his devoted fans around the world: that is, he deserved his loss to Ugas, a talented opponent who probably wouldn't have been much trouble for prime Pacman.
And that might be a good reason to walk away.
"This sport is my passion," Pacquiao said. "That's why I'm still here fighting at the age of 42. I'm enjoying it, but sometimes you have to think about the response of your body.
"My mind, my heart, it's 100%. But my legs were cramping.
"In my heart, I want to continue to fight.
"But the thing is, I also have to consider my body. I've put it through a lot of things."
While Pacquaio stopped short of declaring that his time in boxing was up, many fans insisted the signs from the boxing great all pointed towards retirement.
'This could be it' for Manny Pacquiao
Pacquiao's post-fight comments included a sprinkling of such catchy, pre-written phrases - like a stump speech by a politician.
Indeed, the Filipino senator's next fight is probably in the political ring. He is widely expected to enter the presidential race in the Philippines next month ahead of the May 2022 election.
"Back in my country, there's a lot of things that I need to accomplish to help people. I want to be an inspiration to the Philippine people inside and outside the ring."
If Pacquiao retires, he leaves boxing as one of the greats of his generation. Along with his stunning array of championship belts and his groundbreaking mobility across the sport's weight classes, Pacquiao will be remembered for his utter fearlessness in taking on countless larger foes without blinking.
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's devoted trainer for most of the past two decades, acknowledged being "a little worried" about the champ.
"He's boxed for a long time, and he's the best guy I've ever had," Roach said.
"The best guy, the best fighter. I hate to see the day when he retires, but this could be it."
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