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Pacquiao vows to return to the Kingdom

WBO welterweight world champion Manny Pacquiao (right) meets NOCC president Thong Khon yesterday.
WBO welterweight world champion Manny Pacquiao (right) meets NOCC president Thong Khon yesterday. Sreng Meng Srun

Pacquiao vows to return to the Kingdom

One of the world’s best pound for pound fighters, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao has declared his intent to revisit Cambodia at a convenient time next year to train some of the Kingdom’s boxers at the invitation of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia.

The 37-year-old Filipino boxer, who has been a senator representing Sarangani province since 2010, is the only eight-division world champion and has won 11 major world titles. He arrived in Phnom Penh on Tuesday evening as part of the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte’s two-day visit to the Kingdom.

Tuesday evening’s proposed meeting between Pacquiao and top NOCC officials in the presence of national boxers was rescheduled for yesterday morning at the Sofitel hotel. During the nearly 30-minute closed-door session, Pacquiao shared some of his experiences with nearly 30 boxers including four women.

There was a large media presence outside the meeting venue hoping for a session with the reigning WBO welterweight champion, but ostensibly due to time constraints that did not happen. For his part, Pacquiao expressed his gratitude for his huge fanbase in the Kingdom and said he was keen to help local boxers with training and tips when he finds some spare time next year.

After Pacquiao left, NOCC president Thong Khon told the media that the local boxers were thrilled to meet in person a sporting legend and the second highest paid athlete in the world last year. “We welcomed him and our athletes seemed very happy with having the chance to meet him and to have him on Cambodian soil,” he said.

“It was an honour to have him here because he is one of biggest names in sport, not just in the Philippines and Cambodia but all over Asia and the world. We put forward a request for him to come to Cambodia again.”

He added that the sports community was thankful for Pacquiao to have taken his time off from his busy schedule to attend this meeting. Confirming to the Post that Pacquiao had accepted an NOCC invitation to make another trip to the country, NOCC secretary-general Vath Chamroeun said the timing of the visit will depend on Pacquiao’s schedule either next year or before the 2018 National Games.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports signed a memorandum of agreement on sports cooperation with the Philippines during the visit of Pacquiao and Duterte.

In May this year, Pacquiao lost a controversial WBO welterweight title fight to Floyd Mayweather Jr at the MGM Grand, and speculation is rife that the two greatest fighters of their generation may face each other once again in the ring.

Additional reporting by chhorn Norn

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