MANILA – The Association of Boxing of Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) is still hoping that boxing superstar and now Senator-elect Manny Pacquiao will consider fighting in the forthcoming 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil.
“Hopefully, Manny says yes,” ABAP executive director Ed Picson said on Friday in a press statement after meeting with Pacquiao at his Forbes residence last Wednesday.
Picson said Pacquiao has until May 27 to make up his mind. The date was the deadline for the submission of entries for the final AIBA Open-Olympic qualifying boxing event in Baku, Azerbaijan next month.
The ABAP official said while flag and country remain irresistible drawing factors for Pacquiao, the boxing champion nonetheless wants to get the general public’s view if it would be prudent for him to return to the ring a day after he was proclaimed senator by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
“He’s concerned with what the people will say,” said Picson.
Picson said there are two ways Pacquiao could get to Rio: through a wildcard invitation to be issued by the International Boxing Federation (AIBA) and via an Olympic qualifying event.
“We’ll find out once Manny decides,” Picson said.
Pacquiao was a personal guest of AIBA president Dr. Wu Ching-kuo during the World Championship in Doja, Qatar last October, and it was there that the offer to fight in the Olympics was reportedly relayed, an idea that apparently appealed to Pacquiao.
Pacquiao’s recent rematch with Timothy Bradley and the rigorous national campaign that followed left Pacquiao with no time to weigh the proposal, however – until now.
In recent TV interviews after his official proclamation, Pacquiao said he was giving the matter serious thought.
“Sa Olympics, pinagiisipan nating mabuti ‘yan. Gusto ko ngang tanungin ang sambayanan Pilipino kung papayag sila, kasi August ang Olympics e tapos mag-iistart na ang trabaho ko,” he said. “Baka sabihin na naman kasi, umpisa pa lang ng trabaho tapos absent na naman ako.”
Pacquiao also gave this assurance: “Pero ito talaga pag ginawa ko para sa bayan lang. Walang pera-pera ito. Iaalay ko ito bilang pasasalamat sa bansa.”
Pacquiao has an impressive professional boxing career, becoming the only boxer to win eight titles in eight different weight divisions.
The Philippines has yet to win its first ever Olympic gold medal and boxing is one of the sports that have a good chance to end quest for Olympic gold.
The country’s highest achievements in Olympics were two silver medals courtesy of two boxers – Anthony Villanueva in 1964 Tokyo Olympics and Mansueto ‘Onyok’ Velasco in the 1996 Atlanta Games.