Manny Pacquiao wants to go out a winner when he meets Timothy Bradley Jr. for the third time in a 12-round welterweight fight on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“It is very important to get the win for my country and the people in the Philippines,” Pacquiao said to reporters at the MGM.
But LGBT leaders are calling for a boycott of HBO’s pay-per-view broadcast of Saturday’s fight, because the boxer has said homosexuals are “worse than animals.”
“It’s common sense,” the eight-times world champion said. “Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female. If men mate with men and women mate with women they are worse than animals.”
Pacquiao initially appeared unrepentant with a post on Instagram stating he was “just telling the truth of what the Bible says”.
The statement drew intense criticism, including sharp rebukes from his business partners Bob Arum and HBO. Pacquiao apologised, and has tried to take back his remarks.
“In my belief, it’s against God. I’m not condemning anyone.”
Several big name sponsors, including Nike, severed agreements with Pacquiao though he is adamant that the saga did not disrupt his training. “There were no distractions,” said Pacquiao, who has expressed a desire to sign off in style.
“It’s really important for me to win this fight, to win convincingly,” Pacquiao said. “It’s part of my legacy.”
As I stood and watched the crowd at the MGM in Las Vegas on Tuesday awaiting the Grand Arrivals I thought: “What about our fight? What about a win for equality? “ As a gay woman there will never be a last fight.
Chatting to some of those awaiting their “hero” I was shocked that they were unfazed by his remarks. “To us, he is our idol. We do not care what he says, we want to see him fight.”
Such is the reality of this celebrity age.
Manny Pacquiao, for so long the holder of the moral highground, who in his own country represents everyone and everything. His charitable ventures in the Philippines are legendary. He has helped build hospitals, schools, houses and has done much more for his people.
Simply put: Manny Pacquiao is his nation’s favourite son. In his greatness, in his humility, in his sporting prowess, he represents to his fellow Filipinos everything about their nation that could be legitimate.
Already a congressman in the Philippines, he is running for a Senate seat in the May 9, 2016 national elections.
So how is this lauded mainstay of society, so narrow minded in his views when it comes to others, kept his halo in place?
Pacquiao says, if this is indeed his final fight, he’s confident his legacy is in good standing.
“I have exceeded all my wildest dreams in boxing. When I won the flyweight title I was on top of the world. Now I have added world titles in seven more weight divisions. I am very proud of that achievement,” he said. “I am secure with what I have achieved in boxing and my record speaks for me. I will leave it to others – the fans and the historians – to decide my place in boxing.”
Perhaps there is a realisation that when it comes to Manny Pacquiao, there is nothing left to say about his career or his views.