Boxing bombshell: Manny Pacquiao wants to be in the Olympics

At 44, the Philippine legend, retired from professional boxing since 2021 and dedicated to politics, intends to represent his country in Paris 2024. What are his chances of fulfilling the dream?

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Pacquiao's last professional fight was on August 21, 2021 against Cuban Yordenis Ugas.
Pacquiao's last professional fight was on August 21, 2021 against Cuban Yordenis Ugas.

Boxing and soccer have some important points in common in their Olympic histories.

They are, for example, unlike athletics, swimming or artistic gymnastics, disciplines in which a gold medal weighs much less than a world title. Their presence in the universe of the rings has ranged from fluctuations in their competition patterns to scandals that forced dramatic changes in evaluation systems, an area in which boxing has sadly provided famous graduate degrees.

But probably the most powerful intersection of stories has to do with the number of great figures from both disciplines who competed and even triumphed both in the world championships of their sports and in several of the games played from before the Second World War to the present day.

As usual, a few examples are enough to justify the theory.

In soccer, from the two-time Italian champions of the 1930s to Messi and Neymar have their gold medals at home.

In boxing, where cases abound, Roma 60 was the perfect synthesis. Because Muhammad Ali -then still Cassius Clay- won between the light heavyweights and the Italian Nino Benvenutti, who would be world middleweight champion between the late ‘60s and the beginning of the ‘70s, was consecrated among the lightweight in his own land.

An interesting fact added but quite symbolic with respect to certain decisions taken in Olympic history: the prize for the most outstanding technical figure of that tournament went to the hands of the local figure to the detriment of Ali, one of the greatest boxers of all time.

In any case, the present gives us news that unexpectedly boosts boxing as an Olympic discipline.

Pacquiao defeated De la Hoya on December 8, 2008 in a match called Dream Match.
Pacquiao defeated De la Hoya on December 8, 2008 in a match called Dream Match.

Manny Pacquiao is one of the greatest sports legends. The Filipino boxer, retired two years ago and today fully dedicated to politics in his country, is the only one who managed to become world champion in eight different categories and to his brilliant career he intends to add what he lacks: a title in the Olympic Games.

The bombshell came through a statement by Abraham Tolentino, president of the Philippine Olympic Committee: “Senator Pacquiao’s group came to us telling us that our Filipino idol wants to fight in Paris.”

The message, of course, surprised. The thing is that Pacquiao, 44, last fought professionally on August 21, 2021 when he fell by points to Cuban Yordenis Ugás at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, for the welterweight scepter of the World Boxing Association (WBA). Pac-Man had also been out of a fight for more than two years, and a month later he announced his retirement.

What are Pacquiao’s chances of being in the Olympic Games?

The path for the Filipino to fulfill his dream of being in Paris 2024 is not easy and in the first qualifier, which will be at the Asian Games in Hangzhou (China), he will not be able to compete because only boxers up to 40 years old can participate.

The second chance of winning the ticket to the Olympic Games will be in one of the two Pre-Olympic Games that will be held next year and the last option, as Tolentino himself explained, “is under the rule of universality, which the IOC would grant him”. The space through this last route is only for four boxers.

Pacquiao (he retired with a record of 62 wins, two draws and eight losses) had great duels in his career and faced other boxing legends who were able to win medals at the Olympic Games such as Oscar de la Hoya (gold in Barcelona 1992) and Floyd Mayweather (bronze in Atlanta 1996).

Professional boxers were only able to compete for the first time in Rio 2016 and, should they return and qualify for Paris, Pacquiao would have the opportunity to go the other way around: to close a career full of world titles with an Olympic medal.