Home Boxing News Manny Pacquiao denied Olympic spot at 45 years old

Manny Pacquiao denied Olympic spot at 45 years old

Manny Pacquiao with Freddie Roach. Photo credit: Mark J Terrill/AP

Manny Pacquiao has been denied the opportunity to represent the Philippines at the Paris Olympics this year.

The 45-year-old southpaw carved out a successful career as a professional boxer from 1995 to 2021. During that extraordinary 26 year career he won world championships from flyweight through to junior middleweight.

As a young man Pacquiao always dreamed of Olympic glory, but was never afforded the opportunity to represent his country at the highest level as an amateur.

“From the beginning, I went to Manila to be part of the Philippine team, but I wasn’t picked, I was rejected… because they said I was not good,” Pacquiao said in an interview last year.

“My heart and desire is to claim a gold medal in the Olympics.”

Professional boxers were allowed to compete in the Olympics for the first time at Rio in 2016, although the bouts still took place under amateur rules.

Pacquiao’s longtime trainer Freddie Roach voiced his concern at the time.

“I think it messes things up,” the Wild Card Boxing coach said. “I really think they should keep them separate. I don’t think it’s good for the amateurs and I think it’s really bad for the pros.”

It always looked unlikely that Pacquiao would get the green light to compete as the maximum age limit for Olympic boxers is 40.

But that didn’t stop the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) from making a special request to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow former eight-division world champion Pacquiao to box.

The POC attempted to get a “universality” entry for Pacquiao, a system designed to allow countries with few Olympic athletes to qualify even if they fall short on merit.

This week, the IOC rendered their decision.

“Universality places are not allocated to [teams] with an average of more than eight athletes in individual sports/disciplines at the last two editions of the Olympic Games,” the IOC said in a statement. “This is the case for the Philippine Olympic Committee.”

That explanation did not sit well with the POC.

“Too bad our beloved boxing icon is disqualified because of his age and that everyone needs to go through qualifiers, in all sports, to be able to participate in Paris,” said POC president Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino.

The IOC decision was not expected until March, with Pacquiao advisor Sean Gibbons telling World Boxing News that the Olympics remained the senator’s primary focus.

“If the right opportunity comes up for Manny, we will look at it. But we are also waiting on the Olympic decision,” Gibbons said.

“We expect the decision to be made on Manny fighting at the Olympics in March. We will see if we can get that before deciding on other fights.”

Pacquiao’s last professional boxing bout was a defence of his WBA junior middleweight title against Yodenis Ugas in August 2021, a fight he lost be unanimous decision.