MAKATI CITY – World boxing icon and eight-division world boxing champion Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao personally congratulated Paris Olympic-bound fighter Eumir Felix Marcial for winning a silver medal in the 19th Asian Games in China.
In their meeting in Pacquiao’s posh mansion at Forbes Park in Makati City, the retired boxing champion gave a much-needed pep up to Marcial, one of his proteges.
Marcial said he was thankful for Pacquiao’s support. In posts on his Instagram page, Marcial said the former senator is proud of his qualification to the upcoming Olympic Games.
“My ultimate idol @mannypacquiao is extremely happy and proud that I qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics,” he wrote.
Pacquiao himself wanted to fight for the Philippines in the Paris Olympics but he has to hurdle many regulations, although the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has endorsed his bid to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Last month, the POC made a “special request” to the IOC to allow boxing legend Manny Pacquiao to fight at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games at the age of 45.
In a letter to the IOC, the POC seeks approval for the only eight weight division world champion in the history of the sport would be able to compete.
Pacquiao faces stumbling blocks as the maximum age limit for Olympic boxers is 40.
If given an exemption, he would need to book his Paris spot through one of two qualification tournaments which are taking place next year in Italy and Thailand.
Another route for Pacquiao could be receiving a universality place from the IOC which are normally reserved for countries whose boxers struggle to qualify.
Four spots are available in the Paris 2024 men’s event in the featherweight, lightweight, welterweight and middleweight divisions.
Pacquiao, one of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers of all time, said he would not be too old to compete.
“I am grateful to the Philippine Olympic Committee, under the leadership of Abraham Tolentino, for making a recommendation to the IOC to process my eligibility to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games,” he said.
“I believe it is not too late to fulfil my dream of bringing home a boxing gold medal from the Olympics for the Philippines.”
Pacquiao congratulated Marcial for becoming the first Filipino boxer to qualify for the Paris Games after reaching the Asiad final, an Olympic continental qualifier.
The 28-year-old boxer from Zamboanga City got boxing tips from Pacquiao during their meetup at his Forbes Park mansion in Makati City.
“He (Marcial) was congratulated by the senator personally after bagging a silver medal in the Asian Games and making it to the Olympics for the second time,” International matchmaker Sean Gibbons said. “The living legend Pacquiao was so excited to see him, he also gave Eumir some boxing tips.”
Gibbons said Pacquiao is planning to set up a pro fight in an undetermined venue in Manila for Marcial — one of Marcial’s possible two scheduled pro bouts — before competing in the Paris Olympics from July 26 to August 11.
“The Asiad silver medalist, Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist just met with Viva Manny Pacquiao, he presented him the silver medal, and the big news was the senator wants to do a fight here in Manila, maybe in February to be sponsored by the Manny Pacquiao Promotions,” Gibbons added.
Marcial, who is sporting a 4-0 win-loss record with two knockouts, expressed excitement to fight in front of his hometown, according to Manila Times, noting that the last time he fought in Manila was in 2019 Philippines 30th Southeast Asian Games when he won the gold in the middleweight class.
“It definitely excites me to hear it from senator himself that he wanted to arrange a fight here for me under his promotions,” Marcial said. “There are many Filipinos who like to see me fight here. I’m begging for the support of my fellow Filipinos.”
Marcial will definitely be the main event bout of the fight card to be arranged by Gibbons later on, but the training of the four-time Southeast Asian Games middleweight king will definitely stay in the United States.