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Pacquiao leads search for nat'l boxing champs

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Filipino sports icon Manny Pacquiao, whose  boxing career is "nearing closure now" according to friends and relatives, is to launch national boxing matches to discover boxers with potentials to fight on foreign rings.

Pacquiao was re-elected congressman of Sarangani province during the May 13 elections. Sources close to him said Paquiao is keen on focusing  attention on helping hone younger boxers from the countryside and provide them interventions needed for them to become internationally competitive, aside from his continuing outreach programs for his impoverished constituents in Sarangani.

Former North Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel Piñol, a sportswriter who is also long-time associate of Pacquiao, said the monthly matches will be held in Metro Manila, but shall feature competitions among boxers from across the country.     

The tournament, “Manny Pacquiao National Boxing Championships,” will feature eight boxing teams from all over the country, to pit eight boxers in eight weight categories, and  fight from six to eight rounds in rotation matches among winners.

The fights, according to Piñol, are to be aired weekly by a major television network with Pacquiao himself hosting the events, organized with the support of the international boxing icon’s sports confidante, Raymundo “Jeff” de Guzman.

Negotiations are now reportedly underway among Pacquiao’s camp with the management of the Solaire Resort & Casino, the possible venue of the tournaments, and GMA television network, which is to air the sports show.

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Winners in Pacquiao’s boxing show shall be awarded with a Manny Pacquiao Trophy and a cash grant of P100,000 each.

Only athletes that have not won national, regional or world titles, not over 28 years of age, can participate in the tournaments, Piñol said.

The Pacquiao boxing matches are expected to be launched by the last week of July with Pacquiao himself hosting the show at ringside, Piñol said. 

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