PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino (left) welcomes boxing icon Manny Pacquiao’s desire to fight in next year’s Paris Olympics.

BOXING icon Manny Pacquiao wants to extend his legendary boxing career with a shot at an Olympic medal in Paris next year.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said on Wednesday that Pacquiao’s camp reached out on how the former eighth-division world champion could qualify for Paris.

The POC, Tolentino said, has started conferring with the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which is supervising Olympic boxing while the International Boxing Association is suspended.

“Senator Pacquiao’s camp reached out saying our Filipino ring idol wants to fight in Paris,” Tolentino said. “But the Senator can no longer vie for qualification in the Asian Games in Hangzhou next month.”

The Asian Games—an Olympic qualifier—has an age limit for athletes at 40 years old in all sports and according to Tolentino, Pacquiao, who’s 44 years old, could qualify for Paris through two Olympic qualifying tournaments set in the first and second quarters of 2024.

The third, Tolentino said, is for Pacquiao to secure a berth under the Universality rule, which the IOC would grant. There are, however, only nine places under Universality at the Paris Games—five for women and only four for men.

A close aide of Pacquiao confirmed that the former senator is willing to fight in the Olympics and that they have already reached out to Tolentino.

Tolentino also said that the ABAP, through its chairman Ricky Vargas, will welcome Pacquiao to the national team and will assist in his qualification.

Pacquiao currently weighs 66 kgs and has to choose between 63.50 kgs or 71 kgs that are on the Paris boxing program.

Professional boxers have been allowed to compete at the Olympics and in Tokyo, 43 of the 186 competitors were professionals, including middleweight bronze medalist Eumir Felix Marcial, who beat fellow professional, Armenia’s Arman Darchinyan, in the quarterfinals.

Prior to Tokyo, Marcial booked his first professional victory—unanimous decision over American Andrew Whitfield on December 16, 2020, in Los Angeles.

Marcial opted to delay his fifth professional fight in September and will focus on his return to the Olympics through Hangzhou where he’ll be fighting as a light heavyweight. (AI/MNM)