Pacquiao gets hero’s welcome

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Friday, December 14, 2012

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- Boxing sensation and Sarangani Representative Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao returned home to a rousing hero’s welcome on Friday morning, less than a week after his stunning knockout loss to Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Pacquiao, who was accompanied by close ally Sarangani Governor Miguel Rene Dominguez, his wife Jinkee and their children, arrived at the city airport here around 9 a.m. aboard a Philippine Airlines flight from Manila.

Hundreds of tarpaulin-carrying boxing fans and supporters greeted Pacquiao upon his arrival, which turned into a fiesta-like atmosphere by a playing a brass band.

“It feels good to be back home again. The unconditional love and support you’ve shown, despite my loss, have been a big inspiration for me and my family,” he said upon his arrival.

Pacquiao was met by his mother Dionisia and local officials, led by City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio, Vice Mayor Shirlyn Banas and Sarangani Vice Governor Steve Solon.

But unlike his previous arrivals, the Pacquiao camp scrapped the traditional motorcade around the city and instead proceeded immediately to the Sarangani provincial capitol in Alabel town where a brief tribute program and press conference was prepared by the local government.

“When you (Pacquiao) fell down during that fight, a hundred million Filipinos went down with you. Now we are all ready to rise up again with you,” Governor Dominguez said during the program.

He said Pacquio’s humble character and grace shown despite his devastating defeat has given inspiration to many residents, especially those affected by the onslaught of last week’s Typhoon “Pablo” (international codename: Bopha).

During the press conference, Pacquiao reiterated that he is not yet ready to hang up his boxing gloves and hinted at a possible return to the ring in April or May next year.

Pacquiao said he feels “perfectly fit” so far and is already looking forward to his next fight.

“I’ll just take some rest and then prepare again for my next fight,” he said.

On Thursday, Pacquiao said he was given anew a clean bill of health by experts of the Cardinal Santos Hospital in Manila after taking an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan for possible damages on his brain and spine following his fight with Marquez.

The boxing icon was initially cleared by doctors in Las Vegas, Nevada in his post-fight medical examination.

Pacquiao said he was very happy with the results of the two medical examinations, which “shows that it’s alright for me to fight again.”

Citing standard boxing rules, Pacquiao acknowledged that he would not be allowed to fight within at least 120 days due to his knockout loss.

“But by April or May, the 120-day prohibition will be over so let’s see what happens by then,” he said. (PNA)

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