How powerful is Manny Pacquiao? Floyd Mayweather Jr. will find out Saturday, but the Filipino boxer already scored one massive victory this week when he saved a life, halting the execution of a 30-year-old Filipina in Indonesia, according to Reuters and other news services.
Mary Jane Veloso, a single mother of two boys, was found with 5.7 pounds of heroin at Indonesia's Yogyakarta airport five years ago. She claimed the drugs were sewn into the lining of her suitcase without her knowledge, but she was convicted and sentenced to death anyway.
Pacquiao, who is also a member of the Philippines' House of Representatives, made a plea for mercy after a tear-filled request from Veloso’s mother, joining United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, popular Indonesian singer Anggun and Philippine President Benigno Aquino, among others, in asking for clemency.
“Manny, please help save my daughter. Please speak up,” the mother, identified only as Celia, said in her appeal on a Manila radio station. “Any word from your will help greatly because you are very popular in Indonesia.”
Hours later Pacquiao responded with a videotaped plea to Indonesian President Joko Widodo from his Hollywood training camp.
“I am begging and knocking at your kind heart that your excellency grant executive clemency to her by sparing her life and saving her from execution,” a somber-looking Pacquiao said in the plea, taped by GMA News of the Philippines. “On May 2, I will be fighting in Las Vegas, Nev., against Floyd Mayweather, which is considered the fight of the century. It will be a great morale booster if, in my own little way, I can save a life.”
Early Wednesday the boxer got his wish when the Indonesian attorney general's spokesman said that Veloso's execution had been delayed at the last minute after one of the people who allegedly tricked Veloso into carrying the drugs, Maria Kristina Sergio, surrendered to police.
"The execution of Mary Jane [Veloso] has been postponed because there was a request from the Philippine president related to a perpetrator suspected of human trafficking who surrendered herself in the Philippines," said Tony Spontana, spokesman for the attorney general.
Pacquiao said Wednesday that he would like to travel to Indonesia -- perhaps as early as Monday, two days after the fight -- to meet with Veloso and Indonesian officials. He also offered prayer messages for the condemned woman and her family.
Read the Los Angeles Times’ special edition Flipboard digital magazine Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.