Manila – Dethroned boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao's furious mother led demands in the Philippines Monday for a rematch with Timothy Bradley, although church leaders said the Catholic fighter should retire.
Dionisia Pacquiao has for years publicly urged her son to walk away from the ring but, following the 33-year-old's controversial loss to American Bradley in Las Vegas on Sunday, called for swift revenge.
“I wanted him to retire before, but now I want to see this rematch happen,” the ex-champ's emotional mother, 63, told GMA television from her southern Philippine hometown.
“I want to let all of Manny's fans to know there will be a rematch, and he will get back his belt.”
Pacquiao is a social phenomenon in the Philippines, where his status as one of the greatest boxers ever has propelled him to huge riches, a movie career and election to parliament.
He has won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions, but suffered his first defeat since 2005 and slipped to 54-4-2 when Bradley took his World Boxing Organization welterweight belt in a split decision.
Even the fight's Las Vegas promoter Bob Arum questioned the scoring, describing the result as “nuts”, and many in the Philippines insisted their hero was robbed.
Dionisia Pacquiao said she believed her son won on points, and called Bradley a “dirty fighter” for clinging on to him during exchanges.
Philippines' Army Scout Ranger spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc said the military brass also wanted Pacquiao, a reservist colonel, to face Bradley again.
“Let's settle this once and for all. There should be a rematch, and Pacquiao will then be more vicious and knock Bradley out,” he told AFP.
Both boxers have already indicated their interest in a rematch, setting the stage for a lucrative bout potentially in November.
But for the Philippines' influential Catholic church leaders, Pacquiao's loss was a sign for one of their most famous sons to quit the sport.
The boxer, who had a reputation for womanising, gambling and drinking, recently said he was dedicating himself to religion following a dream in which God told him to follow a righteous path.
“We're very happy he has found his way after a spiritual conversion of some kind,” Archbishop Oscar Cruz, a senior member of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, told AFP.
“But he should quit now and just continue to inspire the people with his other pursuits.” – Sapa-AFP