The Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) will respect whatever decision Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao will arrive at as the deadline looms for the submission of entries to the last Olympic qualifier in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“Sen. Pacquiao has already given so much pride to the Filipino and our country,” said Abap president Ricky Vargas. “We, as a people, are grateful. Just his presence watching our boxers fight in the Rio Olympics is already a great honor and an inspiration to our boxers.”
Abap’s respect for Pacquiao, the Abap head said, is transcendent.
“Not fighting in the Olympics will not tarnish in any way our respect and admiration for Sen. Pacquiao, although he is so much welcome, of course, if he decides to compete,” said Vargas. “We await his decision.”
Vargas issued the clarification three days before Abap forwards its officials lineup to the Baku organizers, stressing that Pacquiao will be a prized guest in Rio de Janeiro this August regardless of his decision.
“He is most welcome if he does decide,” said Vargas. “If not, we will invite him to watch our boxers fight in Rio to inspire and cheer them on.”
All these talks of the eight-division world champion joining the Philippine team in Rio as a junior welterweight started after Aiba president Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu invited Pacquiao to gun for the country’s first Olympic gold medal during a visit in Doha for the World Championship last October.
Pacquiao expressed interest but did not commit as he set his sights on winning a Senate seat in the May polls.
The proposal was shelved for more than six months until it was dusted off and revived after Pacquiao announced his retirement from pro boxing following the Timothy Bradley fight, became a senator of the republic and kept the door slightly open for a possible Olympic swan song.
Abap executive director Ed Picson said that although a wildcard pass to Rio isn’t totally discounted, it is most likely Pacquiao, if he decides to compete, will have to go through the Azerbaijan Olympic qualifying tournament.
“But it’s all up to Manny,” said Picson. “He has until Friday and then we’ll proceed from there.”