IOC won’t change age limit to allow Manny Pacquiao to box in Paris

Philippine boxing great Manny Pacquiao will not be allowed to compete at the Paris Olympics.

Philippine boxing great Manny Pacquiao will not be allowed to compete at the Paris Olympics. Photo: Getty

The International Olympic Committee will not change its rules on age limits to let boxing great Manny Pacquiao compete at the Paris Games.

Pacquiao, who infamously lost his WBO world welterweight title to Australian Jeff Horn in 2017, retired from the sport in 2021.

However, he said he wanted to box at age 45 in the Olympic tournament in Paris, where medal bouts will be held in the Roland Garros tennis complex.

The IOC said on Sunday (Monday AEDT) that it wrote to Olympic officials in the Philippines explaining the age limit for boxers of 40 will be upheld.

The IOC now oversees Olympic boxing after deciding not to recognise the International Boxing Association governing body.

In 2013 the age limit for Olympic boxing was raised from 34 to 40 – a move that would have let Pacquiao try to compete at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

He chose not to at the time, when he was also elected to be a senator in his home country.

It is unclear if Pacquiao would have tried to earn a place at the Paris Olympics in one of two qualification tournaments that open this month in Italy and in May in Thailand.

The Philippines Olympic body had talked of trying to get a so-called “universality” entry to the Paris Games.

These are effectively free passes given to countries that have few athletes at the Olympics and typically struggle to qualify on merit.

However, the IOC said the Philippines had been too successful to benefit from the scheme.

“Universality places are not allocated to (teams) with an average of more than eight athletes in individual sports/disciplines at the last two editions of the Olympic Games,” the IOC said.

“This is the case for the Philippine Olympic Committee.”

Pacquiao ended his storied career in September 2021 at age 42 after 72 fights, winning 12 world titles at a record eight different weight divisions.

One of the most talked-about fights of his career came in 2017 when he tried to defend his WBO world welterweight title against Australian Jeff Horn.

The fight, dubbed the Battle of Brisbane, was fought in front of a crowd of more than 51,000 at Suncorp Stadium.

Despite many pundits believing the Philippine boxer had done more than enough to retain the title, Horn was awarded the fight by unanimous decision, claiming his first world crown.

The Queenslander’s victory was massively popular throughout Australia, with Horn being lauded around the country.

However, Pacquiao later claimed the Aussie got away with numerous dirty tactics during the fight, using illegal blows including elbows and headbutts.

Despite his claims, Pacquiao did his best to be diplomatic, saying: “I’m professional. I respect the judges.”

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