Manny Pacquiao's camp is negotiating with potential sponsors for his gear as he prepares to face Timothy Bradley Jr. in April. The Filipino star was dropped by Nike last week after his comments about same-sex couples drew intense backlash.
Pacquiao's business manager, Eric Pineda, told the Agence France-Presse (via France24) that discussions are already underway to replace the high-profile sports company: "There are several already now in the pipeline. They (the Pacquiao camp) were actually negotiating with some already."
Darren Rovell of ESPN.com reported last week that Nike ended its relationship with the longtime star after he stated to a Filipino TV station: "Have you seen any animal having male-to-male or female-to-female relations? If you have male-to-male or female-to-female [relationships], then people are worse than animals."
Nike called the remarks "abhorrent" and stated it "strongly opposes discrimination of any kind" as part of its termination statement.
Pacquiao posted an apology on social media for his choice of words:
The 37-year-old eight-division world champion is running for senate in his native Philippines while preparing for his third encounter with Bradley. Pineda told the AFP that Pacquiao didn't lose any support from Philippine-based companies after the comments.
"They will still be sponsoring Manny. Just look at his shorts," Pineda said.
The business manager noted there's a "multimillion-dollar" brand that's likely to replace Nike to provide Pacquiao's gear for the April 9 fight. No further information about which companies may be interested in filling the void was included in the remarks, though.
Ultimately, the situation illustrated the dangers of trying to run for political office at home while also trying to maintain your status as an international sports figure. There are numerous possible pitfalls given the wide range of opinions on personal subjects, and Pacquiao learned that the hard way.
Now, his team is in a race against time to make sure a high-profile sponsor is in place before he faces off with Bradley in less than two months.