MANILA – Manny Pacquiao will always be the Filipino “People’s Champ” despite failing to reclaim the World Boxing Association (WBA) super welterweight belt, Malacanang said on Sunday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after Pacquiao’s unanimous decision loss to Cuban Yordenis Ugas for the WBA super welterweight world title on Sunday (Philippine time) at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Roque acknowledged that public support to Pacquiao’s boxing career has always been “unwavering”, including his latest fight against Ugas.
“The boxing icon’s loss in Las Vegas would not diminish the honors he bestowed to our country and the joy he gave to our people,” he said in a press statement.
He said the 42-year-old Filipino boxer will always hold a special place in the hearts of every Filipino.
“Senator Pacquiao will forever be etched in the hearts of Filipinos as our People’s Champ. Mabuhay ka, Manny (Long live, Manny)!” he added.
Pacquiao was supposed to challenge American boxer Errol Spence Jr. but the latter pulled out of the fight after suffering an eye injury.
Ugas, who holds the championship that Pacquiao was stripped of earlier this year due to inactivity, stepped in as a replacement.
The ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), in a separate statement, also expressed pride in Pacquiao for putting up a “good fight” against the 35-year-old Cuban fighter.
“His loss may be unexpected to a nation still euphoric over a sterling Olympic performance of our athletes but the outcome did not diminish our respect to the man who brought so much honor to the country and put the Philippines in the sporting map around the globe,” the PDP-Laban said.
Pacquiao was PDP-Laban president until an assembly called by PDP-Laban vice-chair and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi declared party positions vacant.
Meanwhile, PDP-Laban also congratulated Filipino Mark Magsayo for keeping his unbeaten record intact after his knockout win over Mexican Julio Ceja in the title eliminator for the World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight belt.
“We congratulate our very own Mark Magsayo for his victory. Truly, another proud moment for us,” they added.
Magsayo, who hails from Bohol, knocked out Ceja in the 10th round of their WBC featherweight title eliminator bout to keep his unblemished 23-0 ring record with 16 via stoppages. (PNA)