Sports

Pacquiao wants to fight in 2024 Paris Olympics – POC chief

MANILA – Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao is interested to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Pacquiao’s camp has reached out to the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, asking how the former eighth-division world champion could qualify in the prestigious quadrennial meet.

“Senator Pacquiao’s camp reached out saying our Filipino ring idol wants to fight in Paris,” Tolentino said in a statement on Wednesday.

He said the POC is already discussing the matter with the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which is supervising Olympic boxing while the International Boxing Association is suspended.

“But the Senator can no longer vie for qualification in the Asian Games in Hangzhou next month,” Tolentino said.

The Asian Games, which serves qualifier for Paris, has an age limit for athletes at 40 years old in all sports.

Tolentino said Pacquiao, 44, could qualify for Paris through two Olympic qualifying tournaments set in the first and second quarters of 2024.

The POC chief added that Pacquiao may secure a berth under the Universality rule, which the IOC would grant. But there are only nine places under Universality at the Paris Games, five for women and four for men.

A close aide of Pacquiao has confirmed the former senator’s intention to compete in the Olympics.

The ABAP, through its chairman Ricky Vargas, will welcome Pacquiao to the national team and will assist in his qualification.

Pacquiao, who currently weighs 66 kgs, must choose between 63.50kgs or 71kgs which are both featured at the Paris Olympics.

Professional boxers have been allowed to compete at the Olympics and in Tokyo, 43 of the 186 competitors were professionals, including middleweight bronze medalist Eumir Felix Marcial, who beat fellow professional, Armenian Arman Darchinyan, in the quarterfinals.

Marcial won by unanimous decision over American Andrew Whitfield in his first professional fight held on Dec. 16, 2020 in Los Angeles.

Marcial has decided to delay his fifth professional bout scheduled in September so he can join the Hangzhou Asian Games where he will fight in the light heavyweight.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao opened his Makati mansion to NBA’s Karl-Anthony Towns who plays for the Dominican Republic in the FIBA Basketball World Cup and later Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson.
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Towns described Pacquiao as the greatest Filipino athlete of this generation, Daily Tribune reported.
Actress Ruffa Gutierrez, her mother Annabelle Rama, and her daughter Venice Bektas were seen with Sen. Pacquiao together with Thompson.
Steve Kerr, Thompson and Steve Looney’s coach in the Warriors, is in the country for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
The late Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce all came to see Pacquiao to draw inspiration while former United States President Barack Obama, socialite Paris Hilton, boxer Erik Morales and actor Mark Wahlberg treat the former senator as their friend.
During their meeting, Towns brought several pictures from their 2021 meeting in Hollywood and asked Pacquio to have it signed.
Pacquiao obliged and gave the 27-year-old Towns some trinkets from his Junior Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League while discussing the things they have in common.
They have more than a dozen. For instance, Chuck Anthony Cavenstany, a Filipino-American in the United States, is Towns best friend and manager, who connected him to a Team Pacquiao member in Jay-R Navarro and the rest was easy.
Pacquiao has retained the luster of his persona despite the losses he suffered, including the 2022 Presidential elections in which he finished third behind Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Leni Robredo with more than three million votes. (Jean Malanum/PNA)