Pacquiao's international fight card is not just about boxing

Manny Pacquiao, Lucas Matthysse make weight (5:58)

Manny Pacquiao was all smiles after tipping the scales at 146 pounds, a full pound below the welterweight limit, and slightly lighter than the 146.7 pounds his opponent Lucas Matthysse weighed. (5:58)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Manny Pacquiao was all smiles after tipping the scales at 146 pounds flat at the official weigh-in for "Fight of Champions" held Saturday morning at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC).

That 146 was a full pound below the welterweight limit, and slightly lighter than the 146.7 pounds his opponent, Lucas Matthysse weighed. The two meet on Sunday morning at the Axiata Arena for Matthysse's WBA regular welterweight belt.

After the weigh-in, which drew a capacity crowd at one of MITEC's cavernous convention halls, Pacquiao retired to the VIP room where, fittingly, a number of VIPs joined him to have brunch. It was now time for him to put on his other hat.

Longtime Pacquiao friend Chavit Singson was there, together with former PNP chief Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, politicians Bingbong Crisologo, Toby Tiangco and Lito Atienza, referee Kenny Bayless, and famed ring announcer Michael Buffer.

Pacquiao has a dual role in this event as the main attraction and the promoter since it's his outfit, MP Promotions, that's putting this 11-fight card together. He is, of course, also a Philippines senator, so it's no coincidence that he also sees this endeavor through a political lens: as a means to strengthen relations between the Philippines and its neighboring countries.

"This is not only for boxing but for building relationships with neighboring countries," said the eight-division champion. "Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia: we will have a good relationship with them because of this event. Government officials can meet each other. It's a good start."

Indeed, President Duterte is scheduled to arrive in the Malaysian capital late Saturday to watch the fight, with a meeting with newly-elected Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad penciled in.

It's also no coincidence that the 22 fighters who will see action come from a diverse mix of nationalities -- 11 in all -- from four continents. All of this was by design, as Pacquiao has consistently said that MP Promotions wants to expand its global reach.

"China, Japan, Venezuela, South Africa, Mexico, Argentina, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, Philippines Indonesia, Pakistan," Pacquiao said, effortlessly rattling off the countries represented in the card which kicks off at 7 a.m. at the Axiata Arena. "We're near Singapore so they will also watch the fight."

But as he faces the inevitable decline in his boxing skills, the boxing icon acknowledges that he may not be able to successfully juggle his two careers for much longer. As always, he will take it one fight at a time.

"Let's see after this fight whether Manny Pacquiao can still continue to fight while focusing on being a public servant and politician," he said. "If the desire is no longer there, I wouldn't put myself through all of this hardship in training."

When the end of his boxing career arrives -- Pacquiao has publicly talked about retirement more than once, so the "when" part is anybody's guess -- MP Promotions will lose its biggest star in the ring but still have Pacquiao the Promoter and Politician.