WBA welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao congratulated Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury on playing his 300th game of Australian Rules Football (AFL) ahead of the Magpies thrilling 10-point win over the Geelong Cats in the second qualifying final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Friday night.
The Filipino senator delivered his message of support via video prior to the game, helping spur Pendlebury on to a best on ground performance.
“Hi Scott, congratulations for your 300th playing game in the AFL. Congratulations and keep up the good work,” Pacquiao said.
Pendlebury has cited Pacquiao as his favourite sportsman and intends to send his Collingwood playing guernsey to the eight-division world boxing champion in appreciation of his pre-game tribute.
Collinwood media guy Glen Moriarty was said to be stoked by the show of support form one of the most recognised athletes in the world.
The tribute was made possible by MP Promotions’ Sean Gibbons and Melbourne promoter Peter Maniatis, who is a diehard Collingwood supporter.
“Collingwood FC contacted me and Pendlebury is my favourite AFL player,” said Maniatis. “Manny is a great person thanks to MP Promotions’ Sean Gibbons for making it happen.”
Pacquiao, 40, is coming off a split decision win over previously undefeated American Keith Thurman for the WBA welterweight title in Las Vegas in July.
The senator is expected to return to the ring in 2020 with a number of names in the mix to face arguably the biggest name in pro boxing.
Collingwood is now one victory away from playing in the AFL Grand Final, a game that draws a live crowd of 100,000 people.