MANILA – Saranggani Rep. Manny Pacquiao returned home beltless for the first time in seven years on Saturday, saying he accepted his shock defeat to US fighter Timothy Bradley.
Pacquiao was left stunned last Sunday (Manila time) when Bradley won a split decision in Las Vegas for the World Boxing Organization’s (WBO) welterweight title.
It was Pacquiao’s first defeat since he lost to Erik Morales in Las Vegas in March 2005, ending a run of 15 consecutive wins by the Filipino who has won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions.
“In the hearts of the people, I won. In the eyes of God, I won. But I just lost in the decision. Let’s accept it. I’ve accepted it completely and wholeheartedly, with no hard feelings,” Pacquiao said on Saturday.
Pacquiao’s promoter disputed the decision and the judges’ credentials after the fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Judge Jerry Roth (115-113) awarded the fight to Pacquiao while C.J. Ross (115-113) and Duane Ford (115-113) gave it to the American, but the crowd erupted in boos after a contest which the Filipino had appeared to dominate.
Many boxing analysts also gave the fight to the Filipino, who was said to have landed more punches.
While the World Boxing Organization (WBO) has said it will review the decision, Pacquiao said he will not contest it.
“My loss – I’ve let it go. I’m not bothered by it. It was the decision of two judges,” he said.
In the Philippines, where Pacquiao is regarded as a national hero, observers and fans wondered if the loss was a sign that he should consider retiring to concentrate on his duties as congressman. But he quickly dismissed the idea.
“I will continue boxing. I will not yet retire. I will announce it when the time comes,” he said.
Both Pacquiao and Bradley said after last weekend’s fight that they wanted a rematch, and fans are expecting a bout in November that would silence doubts as to who is the better boxer.
“It’s possible to have a rematch (with Bradley). It’s possible to have a rematch with Marquez, or to fight Mayweather. We have not discussed it,” Pacquiao said.
The congressman was set to return to Saranggani province, his constituency in the southern Philippines, to visit towns devastated by flash floods in the past week.