PHOENIX is not about to abandon its partnership with boxing great Manny Pacquiao, who it hopes to support in his third welterweight bout against Timothy Bradley on April 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Raymond Zorilla, Phoenix vice-president for external affairs, said the top independent oil company is keeping its ties with the 37-year-old eight-time world division champion despite the controversy generated by the boxer's opinion on the sensitive issue of same-sex marriage.
Pacquiao once served as endorser of Phoenix, which was one of the major sponsors in the Filipino boxing icon’s super fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. last year.
Zorilla disclosed the congressman from Sarangani province, who is seeking a senate seat in the coming national polls, also remains a dealer of Phoenix gasoline station and a shareholder of the company.
“I think he’s a shareholder (of Phoenix), it being a public oil company. So I think he owns shares of stocks,” said Zorilla, also the alternate board of governor of Phoenix's PBA team, on Sunday shortly after the Fuel Masters’ Commissioner’s Cup game against unbeaten Meralco Bolts.
The firm’s executive also made it clear Phoenix has no stand on the comments made by Pacquiao about the LGBT community, an issue that led to a parting of ways between the boxing legend and giant shoe and sports apparel company Nike.
“Sa amin naman kasi, that’s his personal opinion and we respect that,” said Zorilla. “We may not agree with what he said, but that’s his opinion. We just have to respect his right to say it.”
“But accepting it is a different issue.”
Just like last year. Zorilla said Phoenix is looking forward to working with Pacquiao in his farewell fight against Bradley less than two months from now.
“If there’s an opportunity, why not? He’s our dealer din naman,” he stressed. “But just like in any other contract, we always evaluate first based on the marketing aspect of the company.”
Phoenix was among the handful of product logos displayed in Pacquiao’s boxing shorts when he fought Mayweather in May of 2015. As to how much it cost the company, Zorilla remained tight-lipped.
So far, no one else from the Pacquiao camp has negotiated with them for a similar transaction for the Bradley bout, although Zorilla said Phoenix is always open to discuss the matter with the boxing champ.
“Sa ngayon wala pa naman because it’s still too early. The last time yung sa (boxing) shorts niya, it (negotiations) happened two or three weeks before the fight. So, we’ll see,” said the Phoenix official.