GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/04 May) — Despite losing his epic fight on Sunday, world boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao will receive a hero’s welcome when he returns to this city and nearby Sarangani Province on May 8.
City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said the preparations are now underway for Pacquiao’s homecoming on Friday, five days after his “unexpected” loss to undefeated American fighter Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mayweather defeated Pacquiao via unanimous decision to wrest the unified World Boxing Association, World Boxing Organization and World Boxing Council welterweight belt.
Rivera said they were informed by the Pacquiao camp that he will be returning to area along with his family on Friday, May 8.
Pacquiao’s younger sister Liza Onding also confirmed the team’s homecoming on the same date.
As in his previous arrivals following his fights abroad, Pacquiao will be feted with a grand motorcade from the city airport to the downtown area and a brief stop at the city hall here.
Another motorcade will bring Pacquiao to the provincial capitol in Alabel town in Sarangani, where a grand celebration and press conference is usually held.
Rivera, who is a close political ally of Pacquiao, said the latter remains a champion for the city and deserves a hero’s welcome despite the result.
“I don’t know what the judges saw that they did not consider his efforts. Nevertheless, congressman Manny is still the champion for us,” the mayor said.
Although disappointed with the outcome, Rivera urged residents to accept it and just move on.
For Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian-Solon, who led the viewing of the fight at the provincial gymnasium, the “fighting congressman” gave an excellent fight and evened up with Mayweather.
He said Pacquiao was the aggressor in the fight and gave strong hits compared to Mayweather’s counterpunches.
“The outcome, for me, was even so there should be a rematch so we will know who is really the better fighter,” he said.
Sarangani board member Virgilio Tobias Sr. called the fight’s result as “unfair and a hometown decision.”
“I thought Manny was ahead in points. But I know that he also needed to knock down Mayweather inorder to win this fight,” he said.
Local boxing trainer and analyst Arnel Antiporda, said the scores given by the three judges to Pacquiao reflected Mayweather’s influence in the Nevada boxing circles.
The three judges scored the fight 118-112, 118-112 and 118-110 in favor of Mayweather, who remained undefeated in 48 fights.
“The scores were too degrading and clearly did not reflect what happened during the fight,” he said. (MindaNews)