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Loss hits Pacquiao hard

Manny Pacquiao in an unfamiliar position on the mat.

MANILA – Philippine boxing great Manny Pacquiao shed tears on national television today, saying he had let his country down in his devastating knockout loss to his great Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez.

“The low morale, the sadness, I accept that. This is my job…. But the reaction of the Filipinos, the many who cried, especially my family, it really hurts me,” he said in an interview on the GMA network.

The former eight-division world champion wiped tears from his eyes listening to his wife, Jinkee, make a tearful appeal on camera for her husband, who turns 34 next week, to hang up his gloves.

“When you see your husband get hurt, you cannot even sleep,” she said in the interview, conducted in the United States after Saturday’s Las Vegas bout. Asked if she wanted her husband to retire from boxing, she said: “You know the answer to that. He knows what I am asking him”.

Pacquiao’s mother Dionisia made a separate appeal on the same station.

“I have long asked you, son, it is time to retire because you started boxing at such a young age. I always pray that he will stop. I asked God to tell my son to stop,” she said.

She said she was alarmed by her son’s knock-out at the hands of Marquez in the sixth round of their non-title fight Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Cinemas, hotels, public parks and even army bases across the Philippines fell silent as a huge audience watched the fight. Police authorities have said crime rates drop every time Pacquiao enters the ring.

The 39-year-old Marquez, who survived a knockdown himself during the fight and had lost twice and drawn once in their three previous meetings, sent Pacquiao crashing to the canvas with a stinging right hand with a second left in the sixth round.

“I was shocked yesterday. The way he suddenly fell,” said Pacquiao’s mother, who added that, like in previous bouts, she had only watched a recording because she could not bear to watch her son’s fights live.

But while moved by the women’s entreaties, Pacquiao remained non-committal on calls for his retirement.

“I don’t want to hurt my family and the people who support them,” was all he would say about his future plans. “I am OK. I just got overconfident in this fight. That is part of the game – sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.” Pacquiao said immediately after the loss that he intends to fight again.

The Filipino boxing hero has extended his boxing success into election to parliament, a career in show business and commercial endorsements.

But there have been questions about Pacquiao’s focus on his boxing in recent years as he has had to deal with his duties as a congressman, host of a television game show and as pitchman for various products. In the past year he has also become a Bible preacher, though he insists his religion has not dulled his killer instinct in the ring.††

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