Manny Pacquiao returned to the Philippines on Wednesday, not as the victor of the Fight of the Century against Floyd Mayweather Jr. but a national hero just the same.
“Even if he lost, for us he is still a winner,” sidewalk vendor Mary Jean Borgonia said.
Motorcycle taxi driver Alejandro Flores added that Pacquiao “is really my idol, despite his loss.”
With the words "Mabuhay ka, Manny" (Tagalog for "Long live Manny") all over the streets on signs and T-shirts, Pacquiao joined fans for breakfast at a hotel near his Forbes Park mansion, then headed around the capital in a motorcade with thousands of supporters lining the streets.
Wearing a brace and arm sling to protect the shoulder he had surgically repaired in Los Angeles last week, Pacquiao told the hotel crowd: “I know what you are thinking, that hopefully there would be a rematch. I like that. I want that. But for the moment, I am thinking of focusing on this shoulder, on my work and my family.”
Mayweather said last week he'd be willing to fight Pacquiao again next year, but then publicly changed his mind.
But Pacquiao, 36, also spoke of possibly hanging up his gloves for good, saying he'll have an “announcement for continuing my career or announcement for retirement” after he recovers from his torn rotator cuff.
And he gave his opinion on a TV interview about who he thought actually won the big fight.
“I reviewed it repeatedly. I scored myself. I was ahead two points,” Pacquiao said.