Manny Pacquiao, the legendary Filipino boxer and eight-weight world champion, is expressing his desire to make a comeback in the boxing world for the Paris 2024 Olympics. This announcement comes directly from the president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, Abraham Tolentino.
Pacquiao had previously retired from boxing after his 2021 defeat to Yordenis Ugas. His retirement was aimed at allowing him to fully focus on his political career in his home country, where he held the position of senator. However, his bid for the presidency of the Philippines in 2022 was unsuccessful, prompting him to reconsider his boxing career.
During his hiatus from professional boxing, Pacquiao participated in exhibition matches, marking his return to the ring in a more casual setting. Now, according to statements from the Philippine Olympic Committee president, Pacquiao is contemplating a more serious return to competitive boxing.
At 44 years old, Pacquiao would be 45 by the time of the Paris 2024 Olympics. Unfortunately, this puts him beyond the age limit of 40 for the main qualification route, which includes the upcoming Asian Games. Nevertheless, Pacquiao still has alternative routes to secure a spot in the Olympic boxing competition.
Two Olympic qualifying tournaments are scheduled for the beginning of the following year, offering Pacquiao an opportunity to earn his place in the games. Additionally, there’s the possibility of qualifying through the Universality rule, which opens up pathways for athletes who wouldn’t otherwise qualify based on traditional criteria.
It’s important to note that the landscape of Olympic boxing has evolved. Previously exclusive to amateur boxers, the rules changed in 2016 to allow professional boxers like Pacquiao to participate. This rule change has yielded mixed outcomes. While it allowed rising pro boxers like Bakhodir Jalolov to secure victory in the super-heavyweight category at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, it also exposed the challenges faced by established professionals transitioning to the three-round fight format of amateur tournaments, as witnessed with Amnat Ruenroeng at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Whether Pacquiao will seize this opportunity to participate in the Olympics remains uncertain. If he does, it could mark a remarkable chapter in his storied career, with the potential to conclude on a triumphant note by winning an Olympic gold medal for his country, a feat that would undoubtedly solidify his status as a true boxing icon. Time will be the ultimate arbiter of this decision, and fans around the world await further developments.