Pacquiao to troops: We will continue to fight
Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has assured his friends, colleagues and supporters in the military that they have not seen the beginning of the end.
“I will carry on. I can still fight,” Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao suffered a bitter loss to undefeated American Timothy Bradley on June 9 before a stunned crowd of nearly 14,000 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It was his first taste of defeat since March 19, 2005, when he dropped a bloody decision against Mexican Erik Morales, also at the MGM Grand.
Two days after the Bradley fight, inside the bedroom of his expensive La Palazzo apartment in Los Angeles, Pacquiao sent out his message.
“To my friends in the military, let us all accept the judges’ decision. Let’s move on -- with no hard feelings. Don’t feel bad,” Pacquiao told APDForum.com.
The 33-year-old boxer holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Philippine Army Reserve. The fighting congressman from the province of Sarangani in Mindanao also has supporters in the American military.
Pacquiao spoke with American troops who were in Afghanistan in November 2011 as he trained for a big fight against another Mexican, Juan Manuel Marquez. Joined by his trainer, Freddie Roach, Pacquiao spoke for nearly an hour through Skype, an online voice, video and messaging tool.
“I dedicate this fight to you,” Pacquiao told the troops. He went on to beat Marquez.
For taking time out to greet them, Pacquiao won the hearts of the American troops. One even said he’d root for Pacquiao if and when the super fight with American boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. takes place.
Pacquiao counts on members of the U.S. military to visit him when he trains at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles. They come to the gym in their uniform.
“I continue to support all the troops – Filipino and American. I support all the troops around the world. I hope they continue to support me, too,” Pacquiao said.
He was expected to beat Bradley and possibly knock him out. On the eve of the fight, the Filipino - who won 15 straight fights after the Morales defeat - was a 5-1 favorite.
Outrage followed the announcement of the split decision, leading to calls for an investigation. Many boxing observers believe Pacquiao beat Bradley, his 28-year-old opponent, but he lost in the eyes of the judges. Two judges handed the match to Bradley, 115-113, and one to Pacquiao, 115-113.
Pacquiao threw the better, cleaner, punches all night. According to the official punch stats, he landed more punches than Bradley, 253-159.
The World Boxing Organization [WBO] has tapped five of its judges to do individual and confidential re-scoring of the fight, but stressed their actions are not meant to reverse the decision.
WBO President Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel said the re-scoring is part of an effort pushing for the widening of the pool of judges for major fights. He hopes to present his case when members of the Association of Boxing Commissions [ABC] meet in July.
Pacquiao, who makes at least $20 million per fight, was supposed to enjoy his vacation with his wife and kids in Los Angeles, but he rushed home to be with the victims of flash floods in his home province. The congressman said it is his duty to be with his constituents in their time of suffering.
Under the fight contract, Pacquiao may opt for a rematch with Bradley in November. But nothing is concrete yet as the boxer, who slept on the streets of Manila as a penniless teenager, is weighing his options.
Bradley graced the post-fight press conference on a wheelchair after suffering a sprained left ankle. He left for the hospital as the new welterweight champion.
Pacquiao gave credit to Bradley.
“I thank all of you who watched the fight … but let us forget about the decision. At least we know, and the people know, that we won the fight. We won the fight, but lost the decision,” Pacquiao said.
Meanwhile, the AFP chief of staff, Gen. Jessie Dellosa, told government TV station PTV-4 he believes Pacquiao has more battles to be fought inside the ring.
“The war is not over for the Pacman [Pacquiao]. He still has a chance to recover his crown this coming November. His warrior spirit should be emulated by all military men as this is the sure ticket against adversity,” Dellosa said.
Pacquiao said there’s no reason to be disheartened by the loss, and vowed to keep up the fight against anyone who enters the ring to face him.
The boxer was not impressive in his November 2011 victory over Marquez. That decision could have gone either way. And with the loss to Bradley, concerns were aired that Pacquiao might be past his prime.
But Pacquiao isn’t ready to retire yet - not without a fight.
“As I said, I can still fight. We will bounce back,” he said.