Manila, Philippines – Manny Pacquiao was feted on his return to the Philippines on Saturday despite losing one his eight championship belts in a contentious loss to Timothy Bradley.
Pacquiao, who has returned to help flood victims in his home province which he represents in Congress, was showered with confetti although his homecoming this time was much less festive because of his split decision defeat last week in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao’s hero’s welcome softened the blow of losing to Bradley.
“It’s okay. I am a winner in the hearts of the people and I am a winner in the heart of God,” Pacquiao said at a news conference where men dressed as gladiators lined up as his honuor guards.
“Let us forget what happened, let us accept it wholeheartedly for God has a plan for us.”
Later, he told GMA television he had asked supporters to skip the traditional “hero's welcome” for him and instead focus on helping those affected by the floods. He said he has already sent relief supplies ahead of his return.
Pacquiao went to the Roman Catholic church in Manila's Quiapo district where he addressed worshippers, urging them to accept the judges' decision and shun anger.
Pacquiao's controversial defeat has prompted one of boxing's major sanctioning bodies to review Bradley's victory, the first step toward what promoter Bob Arum hopes will be “clarity” in the judging of the fight.
WBO President Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel said in a statement this week that the WBO's championship committee will review video of the fight with five “recognised international judges” and make a recommendation. He said the WBO does not doubt the ability of the scoring judges.
Most observers thought Pacquiao had easily defended his welterweight title against Bradley.
Pacquiao interrupted his vacation with his family in the United States following the bout with Bradley to help thousands of victims of flash floods that hit his province.
The civil defense office reported Saturday that flashfloods from rains due to a low pressure over the main southern island of Mindanao earlier this week killed two people in Sarangani and displaced over 8,000. At least 37 villagers and fishermen are still missing and more than 200 homes were damaged or destroyed, the disaster agency said.
At least eight other people have been killed and six others are still missing elsewhere in the country in the wake of the storm and the seasonal monsoon rains exacerbated by a typhoon passing northeast of the country. About 28,000 people also have been displaced. – Sapa-AP