Manny Pacquiao arrives in General Santos. Photo by Jay Dayupay
MANILA -- (UPDATED) Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao returned home to the Philippines on Good Friday, five days after reclaiming his WBO welterweight title from Timothy Bradley.
The eight-division world champion arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport via Philippine Airlines at 4:30 a.m. before taking a connecting flight to his hometown in General Santos City.
Pacquiao was greeted by Senators JV Ejercito and Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan, along with his avid Filipino fans, who came to the airport to welcome him despite the Lenten season.
The fighting congressman was accompanied by his mother, Mommy Dionisia, who has become an Internet celebrity after being seen feverishly praying for her son’s victory while the fight was going on.
The 35-year-old Filipino boxer notched a unanimous decision win over Bradley, dominating the American for most part of their 12-round welterweight fight.
The win has vindicated Pacquiao’s controversial decision loss to the same opponent almost two years ago.
After his stop short stop in Manila, the Filipino boxing icon took a 7 a.m. flight to General Santos City to address the needs of his wife, Sarangani Vice Gov. Jinkee Pacquiao, who is due to give birth to their fifth child.
In a press conference held shortly after his arrival, Pacquiao thanked his fans for all their support and prayers and vowed to help rebuild houses in the typhoon-hit areas in Visayas.
Before returning home to the Philippines, the People's Champ sold off his boxing shorts and gloves that he used during the fight for the benefit of the "Yolanda" survivors. The items reportedly fetched a total of $50,000 or over P2 million.
"Tutulungan natin silang makapagtayo ng mga bahay nila doon," Pacquiao said at the Good Friday press conference.
Pacquiao also addressed his supposed tax deficiencies with the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which has amounted to over P2.7 billion, saying he has nothing to hide despite the accusations.
When asked about his next fight, Pacquiao said he’ll leave the matter to his promoter, Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum. He revealed that they will resume talks in a month's time.
Despite calls for his retirement from both Jinkee and his mother, Mommy Dionisia, he stressed that his boxing career is far from over.
Boxing pundits and fight fans are hoping for Pacquiao to take on his Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez or that he'll go for a more lucrative bout against controversial American boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. On Friday, he said he is willing to face either boxer.