Manny Pacquiao has been invited to star in the Rio Olympics, scheduled this August. The AIBA president, Dr. Ching Kuo Wu, has agreed to offer the veteran Filipino superstar a wild-card to appear directly in the competitions evading the qualifying rounds.
Will Pacquiao finally hit the ring at Rio? Its still uncertain. Pacquiao recently visited Doha responding to Dr Wu’s invitation and spent less than 20 hours in the Qatar capital, as reported by The Phillippine Star.
Pacquiao witnessed Rogen Ladon’s win via points over Mexico’s Joselito Velazquez Altamirano in the 16th round, spent time with the Filipino community residing there and met with Dr Wu, Qatar Boxing Federation president Yousuf Ali Al Kazim and Qatar Olympic Committee secretary-general Dr. Thani Abdulrahman Al Kuwari in his action-packed trip.
“When Manny entered the tournament venue, he was mobbed not just by the spectators but the fighters themselves,” revealed a witness. “Dr. Wu was amazed at Manny’s popularity. Fighters from different countries stopped what they were doing to go to Manny and take pictures. It was pandemonium. The Filipino fans naturally went to Manny who motioned to his security to give him space to be with them. Manny told his security he wouldn’t be what or where he is now without the support of the people so it was his way of giving thanks.”
Dr Wu, who is from Taiwan, and an IOC executive board member since 2012, announced the AIBA’s decision to allow pros to hit the rings at Rio Olympics directly. During the London Games of 2012, boxing was the only sport where the pros were not allowed to participate.
Pacquiao has won 12 world titles in eight weight categories, according to Rappler. For him to make an appearance as one of the first professional boxers to participate would be a truly defining moment in Olympic history. In 1992 games in Barcelona, basketball welcomed the NBA stars to participate in the games, which signaled the start of the open-era in the games. Dr Wu explained that Olympic games intend to feature the best athletes of every sports.