DOHA, Qatar – Eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao will attend the World Boxing Championships which got underway Monday in this Gulf nation, announced Dr. Ching-Kuo-Wu, president of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) at his meeting with National Federation heads from 73 countries at the Ezdan Hotel and Suites here.
Wu said he relayed his invitation to Pacquiao through ABAP executive director Ed Picson who personally brought the invitation letter to General Santos mid-September and presented it to Pacquiao himself at his Gensan residence.
“Manny was excited about the prospect of seeing the world’s best Olympic-style boxers in action and immediately expressed interest in attending”, said Picson.
Upon consulting his calendar however, the Filipino boxing icon who recently announced his intention to run for the Philippine Senate next year, found that he had several commitments in the period of the event October 6-15. He found only one day-Thursday, October 8 and decided to go for the said date.
“I really want to be there to see for myself the Olympic hopefuls from all over the world, but more importantly to give support to our two boxers competing there-Rogen Ladon and Eumir Felix Marcial. It will also give me an opportunity to visit our 200,000 kababayans who work there”, said the 36 year old congressman from Saranggani Province.
Marcial is from Zamboanga City in Mindanao, Pacquiao’s bailiwick.
Picson said it took some doing to arrange the flight schedules for the Doha trip as Pacquiao had previous engagements in Makati the night before and in Gensan the day after. With the help of AIBA and the Qatari organizers however, and countless emails to and from Pacquiao’s American assistant Davy Sisson, the trip was confirmed Monday evening.
Pacquiao will arrive after a grueling 13-hour trip via Abu Dhabi on the morning of October 8th then depart back for Manila at 4 a.m. the following day. He will spend a total of 20 hours in Doha.
“It’s really a big sacrifice for the champ, but he told me he really wants to give support not only to our boxers but also to the 200,000 Filipinos who work here and who have been eagerly anticipating his visit”, said Picson, who heads the Philippine delegation here.
The president of the Qatari Olympic Committee, Sheik Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, younger brother of the ruling Emir of Qatar and International Olympic Committee member- Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, expressed elation on the confirmation of Pacquiao’s visit and is expected to roll out the red carpet for him. He is reported to be an avid boxing fan, especially of the colorful Filipino champion.