Pacquiao vows to help hopefuls

Manny Pacquiao knows his time is up.

This was the keen observation made by a longtime member of his training team who spent dinner with the eight-division legend over the weekend in General Santos City.

“He told me he’s already 44,” Nonoy Neri, an original member of Team Pacquiao, told Daily Tribune.

Pacquiao, who announced his retirement last year after losing to Cuban Yordenis Ugas, is actually 43 and will be 44 on 17 December.

“I feel that Manny has accepted that his time is up and that it is time for the young ones to take over Philippine boxing,” Neri said.

In fact, the whole time he was with Pacquiao, there was no mention of a possible ring return except for the December exhibition against Korean influencer DK Yoo in Seoul.

Neri trains a few topnotch talents, including ex-world champion Rene Cuarto and Vincent Astrolabio.

Cuarto, who lost his title on a controversial decision in Mexico recently, will get his chance to take the crown back when a rematch with Daniel Valladares is staged in Manila before the end of the year.

Astrolabio also vaulted himself into contention following a big win over Cuban maestro Guillermo Rigondeaux in Dubai.

“It’s now time of the up-and-coming to rise to the occasion,” Neri said, stressing that Astrolabio is being eyed to fight underneath the headlining Jerwin Ancajas on 8 October in Los Angeles.

Neri joins Buboy Fernandez as the only other members of the original crew that piloted Pacquiao into stardom in the US under the wings of a small group of Filipino boxing gurus many of whom have since passed away.

Neri swears it would be ideal for Pacquiao to just engage in goodwill events like the Yoo special fight instead of risking it all against the fight game’s new breed of talent.

“Personally, I would like to see him stay retired so he can just focus on giving the other fighters the break they need to make it big in the US.”

Based on the result of their meeting a few days ago, Pacquiao is treading that path.

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