DOHA, Qatar - Boxing star Manny Pacquiao will attend the World Boxing Championships which got underway on Monday in this Gulf nation.
No less than International Boxing Federation (AIBA) president Dr. Ching Kuo Wu made the announcement during his meeting with national federation heads from 73 countries at the Ezdan Hotel and Suites here.
Wu said he relayed his invitation to Pacquiao through ABAP executive director Ed Picson, who personally brought the invitation letter to General Santos City mid-September and presented it to the eight-time world division champion himself at his Gensan residence.
“Manny was excited about the prospect of seeing the world's best Olympic-style boxers in action and immediately expressed interest in attending,” said Picson.
Upon consulting his schedule however, the Filipino boxing icon who recently announced his intention to run for Senator next year, found that he had several commitments in the period October 6-15. He found only one available day (October 8) and decided to go for it.
“I really want to be there to see for myself the Olympic hopefuls from all over the world, but more importantly to give support to our two boxers competing there - Rogen Ladon and Eumir Felix Marcial. It will also give me an opportunity to visit our 200,000 kababayans who work there,” said the 36 year old congressman from Saranggani Province.
Marcial is from Zamboanga City in Mindanao, Pacquiao's bailwick.
Picson said it took some doing to arrange the flight schedules for the Doha trip as Pacquiao had previous engagements in Makati the night before and in Gensan the day after.
With the help of AIBA and the Qatari organizers however, and countless emails to and from Pacquiao's American assistant Davy Sisson, the trip was confirmed on Monday evening.
Pacquiao will arrive after a grueling 13-hour trip via Abu Dhabi on the morning of October 8th then depart for Manila at 4 a.m. the following day. He will spend a total of 20 hours in Doha.
“It's really a big sacrifice for the champ, but he told me he really wants to give support not only to our boxers but also to the 200,000 Filipinos who work here and who have been eagerly anticipating his visit,” said Picson, who heads the Philippine delegation here.