Manny Pacquiao, the living legend of boxing who has shattered records and won hearts globally, has set his eyes on a new horizon: bringing an Olympic gold medal home to the Philippines. Though he’s been a pugilistic maestro for over a quarter-century and holds a stellar 62-8 record, the elusive Olympic medal still eludes his extensive trophy cabinet.
“Senator Pacquiao’s camp reached out saying our Filipino ring idol wants to fight in Paris,” revealed Abraham Tolentino, president of the Philippine Olympic Committee. Paris, the city of lights, will host the 2024 Olympic Games, and it could be where the ‘PacMan’ adds the missing piece to his legendary career puzzle.
But there’s a catch—a ticking biological clock, to be precise. When the torch is lit in Paris, Manny will be a seasoned 45, a number that’s five years beyond the maximum age limit for Olympic boxing. Yet the bureaucratic wheels are already turning; discussions are underway between the local Olympic body, the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, and the International Olympic Committee to carve out a path for Pacquiao’s entry into the Games.
Let’s rewind for a moment. The grand stage of Olympic boxing was once a private party for amateurs. However, a monumental rule change in 2016 flung open the doors for professional boxers to take a jab at Olympic glory. Although eligible for Rio 2016, Pacquiao opted out, keeping his focus on his political career and, of course, boxing. But it seems the senator is ready to don a different pair of gloves and a new title—Olympian—for his country.
Before taking that monumental step, though, Pacquiao isn’t hanging up his gloves. He’s set to square off in an exhibition match against Muay Thai sensation Buakaw Banchamek this January in Bangkok, under international boxing rules. A perfect warm-up, perhaps, for what could be the crowning achievement of his career.
The journey to Paris 2024 has its milestones. The Asian Games next month in the People’s Republic of China are the next big qualifying event. Given the tight timeframe, Pacquiao is likely to pass. But hope is far from lost. Two more Olympic qualification events are slated for early 2024, offering the boxer a ticket to his Olympic dreams.
Let’s not forget the intriguing ‘universality rule,’ another potential avenue for Pacquiao. This rule has had its pros and cons, at times setting the stage for unexpected victories, but also, unfortunately, for embarrassing defeats of seasoned pros at the hands of young amateurs. With 39 KOs to his name, Pacquiao might just defy the pitfalls and the perils of age, offering a spectacle we can only anticipate.
An eight-weight world champion and the first to secure the lineal championship in five different divisions, he’s considered by many as the best to ever step into the ring. His age-defying victory as the oldest welterweight champion adds another feather to his already brimming cap.
Yes, age is a significant factor, especially in a sport as gruelling as boxing. Being 45 could weigh heavily on his agility, stamina, and speed. But if anyone can turn the tide, it’s Manny Pacquiao. His unwavering spirit and unparalleled skill might just culminate in a historic win on the Olympic podium, a fitting capstone to a career that has already been nothing short of extraordinary.
And so we wait, with bated breath, for the final call on whether the prodigious southpaw will make his Olympic debut. One thing’s for sure: If Manny Pacquiao steps into that Olympic ring in Paris, he won’t just be fighting for a gold medal; he’ll be fighting for legacy, for history, and most of all, for the Philippines.