MANILA, Philippines -- Not only did Manny Pacquiao get the chance to meet Barack Obama, he also got the US president rooting for him.
Pacquiao’s Canadian adviser Michael Koncz said the Filipino champion was very pleased to the meet the most powerful man in the world.
“They talked about basketball and about boxing, and Manny invited him to attend the [Shane Mosley] fight and watch it live," Koncz told BoxingFanhouse.com.
Pacquiao was accompanied by his wife, Jinkee, in a cordial meeting with President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington D.C. on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).
Koncz said that although the US president can’t watch the May 7 fight live, he promised that he’ll watch it on pay-per-view.
“He said that he would be rooting for Manny and that he's going to cheer for Manny to win," said Pacquiao’s adviser.
The Filipino champion, who is also the congressman of Sarangani province, posed with Obama for several photos.
"Manny said it was very impressive being in the Oval Office, seeing it first hand. He said it was a great honor to meet the President of the United States," publicist Fred Sternberg told The Associated Press. "He also said the President is a very tall man."
Sternberg said Pacquiao was really honored meeting the US president.
"Obviously, the president is a very busy guy," he said. "So, for him to take time out of his schedule to meet with Manny was a great honor."
Pacquiao is the first reigning boxing champion to be invited to the White House.
When Muhammad Ali got the same privilege, he was no longer a champion.
The Fighter of the Decade was also welcomed in the US Senate as a guest of Nevada Senator Harry Reid, who facilitated the meeting with Obama.
"I think that it is a great honor for anybody to meet with the president, particularly for a foreign athlete. That just shows how far Manny has come in terms of his worldwide popularity," said Top Rank Promotions chief Bob Arum, who is handling the Pacquiao-Mosley fight.
The 8-division champion made the side trip during the Washington D.C. stop of the 4-day tour promoting the Pacquiao-Mosley fight.
The tour began at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, followed by stops in Las Vegas and New York, respectively.
Pacquiao will defend his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title against Mosley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. – With a report from Rodney Jaleco, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau