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Manny Pacquiao won’t suit up for the Philippines in the Rio Olympics after the eight-division champion decided to “prioritize his legislative duties” as a member of the Senate.
The Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (Abap) and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) had expressed their desire to have Pacquiao fight to maximize the country’s chances of winning its first Olympic gold.
But Pacquiao, who announced his retirement after beating Tim Bradley last month, politely declined the invitation that was made possible by the assurance from the Aiba that he will be given a free ride to Brazil.
Pacquiao will officially begin his senate work on June 30, making his Olympic stint in jeopardy as Rio will play host from Aug. 5 to 21.
The Aiba is undertaking drastic changes in the hopes of luring fans to its fold and getting top stars like Pacquiao was one way of getting it done.
Aiba chief Ching Kuo Wu had guaranteed the Abap hierarchy that Pacquiao would be treated like royalty should he decide to suit up and try his luck in the Olympics.
But the 37-year-old Pacquiao’s decision to skip Rio leaves sports officials without any choice but to bank on the mainstays to pull through.
Two boxers – light-flyweight Rogen Ladon and lightweight Charly Suarez – have so far qualified and they could be joined later next month if the last batch of Olympic aspirants make the grade during the last qualifying event in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Pacquiao wound up seventh among the 12 winning senators and the outgoing Sarangani congressman has vowed to devote his time to public service.
“I am not going to let down the people who voted for me,” said Pacquiao, who could reconsider his retirement should efforts to stage a rematch with Floyd Mayweather succeed.
Pacquiao and Mayweather fought last year and their super showdown generated $600 million in revenue, making it the richest boxing match in history.