Pac­quiao re­turns home to a hero’s wel­come

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

NEWLY crowned WBO wel­ter­weight king Manny Pac­quiao said he was in no rush to fight Floyd May­weather Ju­nior as he flew back to a hero’s wel­come in his na­tive Philip­pines yes­ter­day.

Af­ter his stun­ning 12th-round Las Ve­gas stop­page of Puerto Ri­can Miguel Cotto for an his­toric sev­enth ti­tle in as many weight di­vi­sions, the champ also sug­gested he might fight on be­yond the much-an­tic­i­pated May­weather show­down.

“We are not forc­ing a fight with him. It is right that he is the one chal­leng­ing me, be­cause my fights score more on pay per view,” said the 30-year-old south­paw, his swollen right hand and ear still wrapped in pro­tec­tive gauze.

Ear­lier this week, May­weather was quoted as say­ing he wanted to fight Pac­quiao but the Filipino had not in­di­cated any in­ter­est.

“I have yet to hear him ac­tu­ally say, ‘yes I want to fight May­weather’,” May­weather told USA To­day. “Manny Pac- quiao doesn’t say any­thing di­rectly about fight­ing me be­cause he might just know it’s not a fight he can win.”

Pac­quiao stressed it was up to his pro­moter and coach­ing staff to find his next foe, though he ad­mit­ted there were peo­ple around him, in­clud­ing his mother, who ad­vised him to hang up his gloves while on top.

“I do not wish for him to fight ‘Weather’,” his mother Dion­isia Pac­quiao said. “If he does I will climb into the ring my­self, I don’t care if my son gets dis­qual­i­fied.”

Pac­quiao said: “I am think­ing about that. Of course, that’s my par­ent and I re­spect my par­ent,” he said.

But he said in an­other in­ter­view later that May­weather might not be his last ring op­po­nent.

“It is too early to say that,” Pac­quiao said.

He said the Amer­i­can was a dif­fer­ent fighter to Cotto, or even Pac­quiao’s fa­mous re­cent scalps – Os­car de la Hoya and Ricky Hat­ton. “We will need a dif­fer­ent style of fight­ing him,” he said. “You have to adapt to the weather.”

The Philip­pines rolled out the red car­pet in a rock star re­cep­tion yes­ter­day for the fighter widely hailed as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

High-rank­ing of­fi­cials as well as tens of thou­sands of fans paid homage as the 30-year-old Pac­man flew in. In the back­ground, a ban­ner read: “Wel­come home, the world’s best boxer of all time.”

“It’s a mo­men­tous event in the his­tory of the Philip­pines, that’s why we’re here,” said gov­ern­ment vet­eri­nar­ian Min­nie Lopez, one of tens of thou­sands of res­i­dents who lined the pa­rade route.

A con­voy of 20-plus lux­ury peo­ple car­ri­ers es­corted by po­lice out­rid­ers whisked him to a ho­tel for break­fast, where he was met with wild cheers be­fore go­ing to mass. In a break with custom, a Manila church let Pac­quiao de­liver an in­spi­ra­tional mes­sage dur­ing the mass, at­tended mostly by or­di­nary Filipinos who had waited for hours to catch a glimpse of the boxer.

“I live my life like ev­ery day is the last. I am proud for hav­ing at­tained this record,” he said. “It is be­cause of God and your pray­ers that I suc­ceeded in my fights. I be­lieve in the power of God, 100 per­cent.”

Pac­quiao is con­sid­ered a na­tional trea­sure in the Philip­pines, a box­ing­mad na­tion of 92 mil­lion peo­ple, where po­lice say even crim­i­nals and Mus­lim in­sur­gents take the day off when­ever his fights are car­ried on tele­vi­sion.

He has also par­layed his box­ing fame into a suc­cess­ful show busi­ness ca­reer, play­ing star­ring roles in top-rat­ing movies and a tele­vi­sion sit­com, and mak­ing him more pop­u­lar than the pres­i­dent.

His fame though has also brought him trou­ble. Ear­lier this week, he brushed off ru­mours his mar­riage was in trou­ble amid re­ports he flew a star­let to Las Ve­gas to watch him. – Sapa-AFP

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