Pacquiao returns home to a hero’s welcome
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