By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Boxing legend Manny Pacquiao has the courage and will to fight, but does he still have something left in his tank?
Pacquiao thinks so as he intends to qualify for next year’s Paris Olympics.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino disclosed on Wednesday, Aug. 30, that Pacquiao’s camp has reached out and asked him on how the former eight-division world champion could gain a berth in the PH team that will see action in the 2024 Paris Games.
“Senator Pacquiao’s camp reached out saying our Filipino ring idol wants to fight in Paris,” Tolentino said, adding that he has already started conferring with the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that supervises Olympic boxing while the International Boxing Association is suspended.
The 44-year-old Pacquiao, however, can no longer vie for Olympic slots in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China next month as the said regional Olympic qualifier has an age limit for athletes at 40 years old in all sports.
But there are two qualifying tournaments where Pacquiao can possibly join – the tournament in Busto Arsizio, Italy on Feb. 20 to March 12 and in Bangkok, Thailand on May 23 to June 5.
Another option for Pacquiao is to secure a berth under the Universality rule. The IOC is granting five women and four men for Paris.
Professional boxers have been allowed to compete at the Olympics and in the 2020 Tokyo edition, 43 of the 186 competitors were professionals including middleweight bronze medalist Eumir Marcial and Armenia’s Arman Darchinyan.
Pacquiao, who currently weighs 66kgs, has to choose between 63.5kg or 71kg for the Paris program.
In the history of the Olympics, eight of the 12 Filipino medalists were boxers including Marcial and 2020 Tokyo silver medalists Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam.
The PH boxing team is currently in Canberra, Australia for its final phase of preparations for the Asian Games.