BOXING legend Manny Pacquiao returned to the country early Wednesday morning still believing he beat rival Floyd Mayweather Jr. in their welterweight unification title showdown more than a week ago at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
A red carpet welcome greeted the Filipino ring hero shortly upon his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 just before the break of dawn.
His operated right shoulder still in a black sling, Pacquiao, with wife Jinkee, son baby Israel, and a big entourage walking beside him, waved to the crowd that was there so early in the day to welcome the champ following his 13-hour flight from Los Angeles.
He later presided over a brief press conference at the VIP lounge of the airport, where he repeatedly insisted he was the clear winner in the richest fight in boxing history held last May 2 (May 3, Manila time).
“Pinanood ko ng paulit-ulit 'yung laban, panalo tayo by two points,” said the 36-year-old Pacquiao, wearing a red polo over black pants and still in a jolly mood despite having a hard time sleeping during the flight owing to the throbbing pain on his injured shoulder.
“Kahit may karamdaman ako kung titingnan natin round by round yung laban hindi naman tayo natalo. Hindi tayo nabugbog, panalo tayo,” he added. “Pero gaya ng sinasabi ko, nirerespeto ko yung decision ng mga judges.”
Mayweather won the 12-round match by unanimous decision, 118-110, 116-112, 116-112, to hike his perfect record to 48-0.
Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KOs) later admitted he fought Mayweather with an injured right shoulder which he aggravated during the course of the match. His team’s earlier request for a painkiller shot two hours before the fight was denied by the Nevada Athletic Commission for its failure to disclose his injury during the medical check-up on the day of the weigh-in.
In light of the injury issue, Mayweather initially declared he’s willing to give Pacquiao a rematch once he fully recovers, only to change his mind afterwards, labelling his Filipino rival as a ‘sore loser’ and ‘coward.’
The two-time congressman from the province of Sarangani said he’d rather not comment on Mayweather’s latest rant, adding he’s not about to stoop down to the level of the brash-talking American.
“Ang mga ganyan, huwag na nating patulan. Kasi pag pinatulan pa natin 'yan, magiging ka-level natin sila,” said Pacquiao, drawing a round of applause from his audience.
At the moment, the greatest Filipino boxer ever said he’ll focus on completing his recuperation from the athroscopic procedure done on his torn rotator cuff, which is expected to heal within the next four to six months.
“After four weeks, mag-start na ako ng rehab para maigalaw ko na ‘yung kamay ko,” said the Pacman, adding his right arm will remain in sling for at least two months.
At least for this moment, one of boxing’s all-time greats showed his mortal side.
“Sana mawala na `yung pain. Hindi ako makatulog pag gabi kasi makirot,” he said.