Boxing great Manny Pacquiao has won a seat in the Philippine Senate based on an unofficial count and is set to be proclaimed Thursday with other senatorial winners, bringing him closer to a possible crack at the presidency. The 37-year-old Filipino slugger has garnered more than 15.5 million votes with more than 96 percent of voting precincts counted and is in 7th place of 12 winning senators, the AP reports. Earlier this year, he said that he planned to retire from boxing to become a full-time politician. Pacquiao—considered a hero in the country that grinds to a halt so people can root for him during his televised fights—has indicated in the past he would consider a run for the presidency.
During his senatorial campaign, Pacquiao bounced back impressively after a huge drop in support from his remarks in February that people in same-sex relations are "worse than animals." The Bible-quoting candidate apologized to people hurt by his comments but made clear he opposed same-sex marriage. He has represented southern Sarangani province in the country's House of Representatives since May 2010, though he has been criticized for seldom showing up for legislative duties due to his preoccupation with boxing and training. He ran for the Senate under the ticket of losing presidential candidate Jejomar Binay, but he also was endorsed by southern Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the winner of the presidential race, according to unofficial results. (Read more Manny Pacquiao stories.)