MANILA, Philippines – With AIBA proposing to make professional boxers eligible to compete at this year’s Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Manny Pacquiao has received an invitation to participate in the boxing category of the quadrennial multi-sport event.
In a report by Philippine Star, AIBA president Dr. Ching Kuo Wu offered the Filipino boxing icon a wildcard ticket straight to the main draw without going through qualifications.
The article also stated that the idea of Pacquiao donning the Philippine colors on the Olympic stage was initially presented when Pacquiao flew to Doha, Qatar for the AIBA World Championships this past October.
Although there has traditionally been a strict dividing line between amateur and professional boxing, AIBA aims to expand the organization’s role and follow the lead of other sports such as basketball and tennis that allow pro athletes to compete at the Olympics.
Pacquiao has captured 12 world titles in 8 different weight classes and was hailed “Fighter of the Year” 3 times by both The Ring Magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).
In addition, the BWAA recognized Pacquiao with the “Fighter of the Decade” citation for the 2000s.
Aside from the world titles and awards, Pacquiao was long rated as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world by most sporting news and boxing websites until his setbacks in 2012.
Pacquiao is currently ranked No. 7 on The Ring’s pound-for-pound list and has been in the Top 10 for 635 weeks.
Despite the world titles and numerous laurels in professional boxing, the only thing missing in Pacquiao’s trophy room is an Olympic gold medal.
Pacquiao strutted his wares several times in the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines’ weekly tourney dubbed “Go For Gold,” but he did not get the attention of national coaches.
The closest he ever got to the Olympics was by acting as flag bearer for the Philippine delegation during the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, China.
The Philippines has never won a single gold medal in the Olympics since it first joined in 1924 and presently holds the record for the most medals without a gold.
Filipino athletes have won a total of 9 Olympic medals, with boxing as the top medal-producing sport.
According to the same report, Pacquiao is not closing the door on the possibility of accepting Wu’s proposition to box in the upcoming Olympics. – Rappler.com