AIBA continues to woo Pacquiao for Olympics
MANILA, Philippines - Boxing star Manny Pacquiao could soon be trying to add an Olympic gold to his array of 8 division world titles in the professional ranks.
Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines executive director Ed Picson said the International Amateur Boxing Association head Wu Ching-kuo made the offer inviting Pacquiao during the recent Olympic qualifying tournament in Hebei, China,
"Yes, AIBA has announced it to media several times. Pros may be endorsed by national boxing associations such as ABAP," said Picson in a text message to Rappler.com on Tuesday. Two Filipinos, Rogen Ladon, a flyweight, and Charly Suarez, a lightweight, have qualified for the Rio Olympics so far.
DZSR, the government-run sports radio station, said Tuesday that Pacquiao welcomed the idea of representing the Philippines. It reported that AIBA made the offer to Pacquiao twice in the past.
Pacquiao will battle Timothy Bradley Jr this Sunday in what is being billed as his final bout before retiring. He is aspiring for a Senate seat in the May elections where private pollsters show the 37-year-old boxer among the top ten. Voters will be electing 12 senators, on top of a president and vice president.
Picson said he has to find out if Pacquiao is interested. "Then I will ask AIBA if he needs to qualify or not," he added. The final qualifier is in June.
Boxing is the Philippines biggest source of Olympic medals, with two silver medals, the last from Mansueto Velasco in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and three bronze medals. They are Roel Velasco, now one of the national coaches, Leopoldo Serantes and Jose Villanueva, the father of Anthony Villanueva, the country's first silver medalist in 1964. – Rappler.com
Editor's note: In a previous version of this article, it was said that Mansueto Velasco won a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics. He won a silver medal in the 1996 Olympics.