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ABAP to respect Pacquiao's decision on Olympic bid

John Locher/AP (file photo)
By JP Abcede

MANILA--The Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines will respect whatever decision boxing champion and newly elected senator Manny Pacquiao will arrive at as the deadline looms for the submission of entries to the AIBA Open-Olympic qualifying boxing event in Baku, Azerbaijan to be held next month.

AIBA gave the countries interested to send in their representatives until Friday to sign up for the tournament.

“Senator 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 [at] the Rio Olympics is already a great honor and an inspiration to our boxers.”

As of press time, Pacquiao is still noncommittal in giving the Olympics a try as he left it to the clamor of his fans on whether he should represent the country in the biggest sporting event in the world.

“Pinagiisipan nating mabuti iyan (Olympics). Gusto ko ngang tanungin ang sambayanan Pilipino kung papayag sila kasi August ang Olympics, tapos mag-iistart na ang trabaho ko,” he said. “Pero ito, kapag ginawa ko, para sa bayan lang. Walang pera-pera ito. Iaalay ko ito bilang pasasalamat sa bansa.”

If the newly minted upper house legislator ever decides not to participate, the door is still open for him to support and watch his fellow Filipino boxers compete in Brazil this August.

“Not fighting in the Olympics will not tarnish in any way our respect and admiration for senator Pacquiao, although he is so much welcome, of course, if he decides to compete,” said Vargas. “If not, we invite him to watch our boxers fight in Rio to inspire and cheer them on.”

The AIBA recently allowed professional boxers to compete at the Olympics. The Philippines is given a wildcard entry, which can be used for the eight-division world champion.

According to ABAP executive director Ed Picson, another option is for him to go through the Azerbaijan Olympic qualifying tournament, where Pacquiao will most likely compete in the light welterweight (60-64kg) division.

Pacquiao last fought in April, beating Timothy Bradley in their third meeting. “Pacman” has fought in the 140-lb class in his professional career, most notable was his second round KO victory over Ricky Hatton.

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