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HURT AND PUZZLED

Pacquiao thinks he was set up.

ABOARD ‘AIR PACQUIAO’ – The chartered A330-300 that flew Manny Pacquiao and his 150-strong entourage from Brisbane on Monday didn’t exactly ooze with negative energy as it soared over the massive Australian landmass.

It had an upbeat vibe even if the main man on the cabin on the six-hour and 15-minute flight to General Santos City looked sullen at times, his eyes showing red streaks and his bruised cheeks and forehead sharing a pinkish-blue color.

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Around 24 hours earlier, Pacquiao, soon to be 39 years old, was on top of the ring at Suncorp Stadium fighting a young lion who was more than determined to take over the pride.

Speaking to Manila-based reporters, Pacquiao admits to being hurt by the stunning defeat to Jeff Horn but he simply could not help but wonder why he seemed destined to fail in his bid to retain the World Boxing Organization welterweight crown.

Pacquiao singled out the handling of US referee Mark Nelson as a case in point, complaining that the Minnesota-based third man didn’t do anything at all in warning the rugged Horn.

“Yung referee hindi marunong. Feeling ko tuloy na-set up ako,” said Pacquiao as other passengers gathered him to show that their support remains the same.

Pacquiao alleged that Nelson was too liberal in allowing Horn to use wrestling and rough tactics while he was being pinned on the ropes many times during the bruising bout.

Horn did earn the judges’ nod: 117-111 and 115-113 (twice).

The decision was met with criticisms not only in the Philippines but in the US as well but Pacquiao insists that the 115-113 was fair enough.

“Pwede pa sguro yung 115-113 pero yung 117-111, ang layo,” he said.

While Pacquiao looked lonely and sounded bitter at times, he swore that he has learned to accept the decision and is looking into the future even if he isn’t sure what’s down the road.

“Walang problema,” Pacquiao said when asked about the clause in the contract that calls for an immediate rematch.

Asked about retirement, Pacquiao also raised the possibility of such taking place, stressing that he will weigh his options in the coming day and weeks while spending more time with his wife Jinkee and their five kids.

Meanwhile, Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach said he would consider advising Pacquiao to retire after a glittering 22-year professional career in which he won world titles at an unprecedented eight weight divisions.

“I’m going to talk to Manny about maybe calling it a day, maybe this is it,” Roach said.

Roach however called for an investigation into the scoring of American judge Waleska Roldan.

According to CompuBox statistics, Pacquiao landed almost twice as many punches as Horn – 182 to 92. Judges American Chris Flores and Argentine Ramon Cerdan both thought it was closer, but Horn had edged the fight 115-113.

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