What if Manny Pacquiao joined the Philippine boxing team in the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro in Brazil?
According to Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) secretary-general Ed Picson, it nearly happened.
During the online session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday, Picson shared that the Filipino boxing sensation "seriously considered" fighting for the country in the 2016 Games.
"That was in 2016. The president of AIBA [International Boxing Association] then, Wu Ching-kuo, asked ABAP to extend to Pacquiao the invitation. And we did," Picson said.
Pacquiao's responsibilities as senator, though, outweighed what could have been his first tour of duty for the national team where he was expected to win a gold medal. Picson said the eight-division world champion, who was a newly-elected senator at the time, did not want to miss the opening of the Senate session in July of that year.
"Senator Pacquiao seriously considered it. Ang problema lang, he won as senator, eh the Olympics, which were in July, conincided with the opening of the session of senate," said Picson of Pacquiao. "Sabi sakin ni senator, 'Ed, kung aabsent ako sa unang session, mayayari na naman ako.' Kasi 'di ba that was the criticism of him when he was in Congress. 'Unang unang session, aabsent ako.' So he had to beg off."
Pacquiao, who could have fought as welterweight with now Olympic-bound Eumir Marcial as sparring partner, was invested in the idea of competing in the 2016 Games that he even met with AIBA officials in Qatar, said Picson.
"We invited him to the World Championships in Doha, Qatar in 2016 and he came. He was there only for 15 hours, walang tulugan. Galing Manila, he flew to Dubai, then Dubai to Doha, stayed there for maybe 13 hours and then left again for Manila," Picson said. "That's how serious he was. He met with the president of AIBA and other officials. He was entertaining thoughts of fighting in the Rio Olympics."