Pacquiao going for gold in Rio: A perfect end to great career - and his best shot at redemption
Considering Manny Pacquiao is not expected to get into a brawl with the elusive Tim Bradley, nor sustain a lot of damage from the American's powder-puff punches, the two-month turnaround time from the April 9 fight to the Olympic qualifiers in June may be enough for the Filipino hero.

IF we are among the handlers of Manny Pacquiao, we'd be fervently praying right now that a last-ditch push by the president of the International Boxing Association (Aiba) to open the Rio Olympic Games door for professional boxers succeeds.

After all that he has been through of late, this could be Pacquiao's best shot at redemption - and a fitting end to his legendary career.

Forget about a second fight with arch-rival Floyd Mayweather, Jr. which the retired (at least for now) American fighter has shown no interest in making, and, even if it pushes through, doesn't figure to be any more exciting than their underwhelming 'megafight' last year.

The Timothy Bradley fight? It's a bout Pacquiao must win and most likely will, although it is not expected to excite fans as much as the biggest fights of the Filipino boxer's great career. The senatorial elections? Senator Pacquiao may sound good, but it's a career path few fans care about.

Basketball? Next topic, please.

But how about a Pacquiao donning the red, white and blue in the final battle of his career, bidding to give the Philippines a first-ever Olympic gold medal in the Rio Games this August? Well, you can't write a better ending to the career of the greatest Filipino athlete of all time.

That possibility has become closer than ever to reality over the last few days, with no less than the Aiba president, Dr. Wu Ching-kuo making a determined push to allow professional boxers to compete in the Olympic Games, not four years down the road but in Rio de Janeiro.

In an interview with British media on Wednesday, Wu drummed up his grand plan and revealed that the last obstacles to a bid to allow full-time professionals to go for gold in Rio are set to come down over the next few months.

"It is an IOC (International Olympic Committee) policy to have the best athletes in the Games, and of the international federations, Aiba is probably the only one without professional athletes in the Olympics," Wu told the media.

"We want the best boxers to come to the Olympic Games. It is Aiba's 70th birthday, and we want something to change - not after four years, but now."

[See Wondering why Pacquiao never got a shot at Olympic gold as an amateur? Here's why]

Although the qualifiers for the Rio Games are well underway, Wu hinted that the rules can be changed to allow each country a chance to name its best boxer - both from the amateur and professional ranks - to the remainder of the qualification process.

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That of course would entail complications for Pacquiao, who is facing Bradley in an April 9 fight that would be so close to the final qualifiers for the Rio de Janeiro Games which is set in June, according to Alliance of Boxing Associations of the Philippines (Abap) executive director Ed Picson.

A shift would also entail a lot of adjustments for the eight-division world champion, who will have to get used to fighting five-round matches over successive days as well as the scoring system in the amateur ranks which favors stylish boxers more than power punchers like the 'Pacman.'

But considering Pacquiao is not expected to get into a brawl with the elusive Bradley, nor sustain a lot of damage from the American's powder-puff punches, the two-month turnaround time from the April 9 fight to the Olympic qualifiers may be enough for the Filipino hero.

Also, remember that amateur boxing has done away with head gears in the months leading up to the Rio Games, raising the probability of knockout victories for heavy-handed hitters like Pacquiao.

Bu the bigger question is: Does Pacquiao want it?

The answer is yes.

According to Picson, the idea of fighting in the Olympics has piqued the interest of Pacquiao, long before the controversy over his remarks on same-sex marriage put him in the middle of a raging storm.

Pacquiao, Picson added, had in fact met with Wu during the Aiba World Championship in Doha, Qatar last year and the two discussed the matter of allowing pros to compete in Rio, 'although not at length since Manny only stayed in Doha for 18 hours and had other matters to attend to.'

Wu apparently wants Pacquiao on board before making the final push for pro boxers in Rio - and wants to see Pacquiao competing in Rio. The two are scheduled to meet again, either in the Philippines or during the course of Pacquiao's training for the Bradley fight in the US, Picson added.

So should Pacquiao do it?

No reason not to. It's the perfect end to his career - and his best shot at redemption.

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