Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao has confirmed he would love to represent his nation at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, amid speculation professional fighters will be allowed to compete in the event for the first time ever.
The veteran, who is currently in training for a bout with Timothy Bradley on April 9 in Las Vegas, is set to retire from the sport this year. However, when speaking about a potential outing at the Games, he admitted he was tempted.
“It would be my honour to represent the country in the Olympics,” Pacman told AFP (h/t Inquirer.net). “If I would be asked to represent boxing, why not? I would do everything for my country.”
The 37-year-old also revealed he has been “personally invited” to take part in the summer showpiece by Wu Ching-Kuo, president of the International Boxing Association (AIBA).
Pacquiao’s comments are at odds with those made by long-term rival Floyd Mayweather, who, having retired from the sport last year, insisted the prospect of an Olympic gold medal wouldn’t be enough to lure him back into action, per Peter Gilbert of Sky Sports.
As noted in the aforementioned piece, Wu has told AFP that the AIBA would make a decision on whether to let professionals compete at the games within three months, with a ballot set to be conducted.
Two-time British champion Paul Smith Jr. doesn’t agree with the changes being proposed and wants to see the Olympics kept exclusively for amateurs:
Don't agree with professionals being eligible to box at The Rio Olympic Games. It's wrong. Amateur boxing should stay just that. WSB too!— Paul Smith Jnr (@PaulSmithJnr) February 24, 2016
Pacquiao has never fought at the Olympics previously and given his in-ring status—he’s the only ever eight-weight world champion in the sport’s history—the chance to add another chapter to his legacy would be appealing.
It seems as though the difference between amateur and professional fighting is getting smaller, as the Guardian reported here:
If Pacquiao was to compete it’d convolute what is already a busy schedule. The Filipino is running for a seat at the Senate in May and is pondering a possible presidential bid.
The veteran fighter has attracted criticism during his bid for a seat, recently describing homosexual couples as “worse than animals.” As reported by BBC Sport, while Pacquiao did apologise for the claims made, he has since had his lucrative sponsorship deal with sportswear giant Nike terminated.