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Pacquiao to carry RP flag in Beijing Olympics

July 05, 2008 00:32:00
Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines--Introducing, Ambassador Manny Pacquiao.

The newly crowned World Boxing Council lightweight champion has a new title under his belt--Special Envoy of the President to the 2008 Beijing Olympics--and his first task is to carry the national colors at the games' opening Aug. 8.

President Macapagal-Arroyo conferred the honorific title on Pacquiao on Friday during their meeting in Malacañang after the boxer arrived from Los Angeles, California.

At their meeting, the beaming Ms Arroyo threw out a few jabs to mimic Pacquiao's lethal punches that knocked out David Diaz in Las Vegas.

Giving back the honor

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said that as ambassador, Pacquiao would carry the national flag at the Olympics' opening ceremony, which Ms Arroyo herself will attend upon the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao.

"Can you imagine the one that will hold the flag ... is a Filipino world champion?" said Ermita, who was himself a boxer in his younger days. "Ambassador Pacquiao, imagine that, pinakyaw nya na lahat (he has swept everything)."

"For the honor he had given the Filipino people, the President gave back the honor to him," Ermita added.

Pacquiao later told reporters in Filipino: "I will carry the flag of the Philippines, that's really nice."

Possible fight with Valero

In their one-on-one meeting, Pacquiao said he and Ms Arroyo talked about the Diaz fight.

"She told me about my right and left punches that knocked out (Diaz). She even showed me how I did it," Pacquiao said.

At a press conference, Pacquiao talked of the possibility of a match with the undefeated southpaw boxer Edwin Valero, the World Boxing Association super featherweight champion.

He made a joke about Valero's unblemished record of 24 wins, all by knockout.

"I told him the people he had beaten were all tricycle drivers," Pacquiao quipped. "But that will be a good fight. We can fight anytime ... Our paths will eventually cross."

Will pursue studies

Pacquiao said he would have to give up his 130-pound WBC belt as a result of his victory over Diaz. "I need to. I can't hold on to two divisions," he said.

He also said he would continue with his studies--he is taking up a course on business administration--while preparing for his next fight.

The champ plans to spend the next days traveling to Romblon, Iloilo and other areas hit by Typhoon "Frank" to distribute relief goods.

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