RING icon Manny Pacquiao is seeking divine intervention and his compatriots’ blessings as he ponders the possibility of performing his swan song, not at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas but at Riocentro Pavillion 6 in Barra, site of the boxing event in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Crowned champion in eight different weight divisions in an incomparable professional career spanning two decades, Pacquiao sought a seat in the Upper House during the recent national elections and won the nod of more than 16 million Filipinos in placing seventh overall among 12 winning senators.
Now he seeks another vote of affirmation from his fellow Filipinos on another major decision in his life: whether or not to join Filipino athletes in shooting for the country’s first ever Olympic Games gold medal in Rio this August.
If Pacquiao comes to a decision to fight for Olympic glory, he will likely compete in the 140-lb light welterweight category in which he has reigned with fists of fury in his stellar pro career.
Pacquiao will have to make up his mind though on or before May 27, the deadline for submission of entries for the final Aiba Open-Olympic qualifying boxing event in Baku, Azerbaijan next month.
“Hopefully, Manny says yes,” said Abap executive director Ed Picson, who met with Pacquiao at his Forbes residence last Wednesday.
Picson said that while flag and country remain irresistible drawing factors for Pacquiao, the boxing champion nonetheless wants to get the public’s view if it would be prudent for him to return to the ring just weeks after the polls instead of immediately buckling down to work in the Senate.
“He’s concerned with what the people will say,” said Picson.
The Abap official 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.
The fight against Tim 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 is 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."