PHILIPPINES boxing icon Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao is facing pressure from politicians to shelve his looming mega bucks bout with Oscar De La Hoya because they fear he will lose.
Senior congressman Rufus Rodriguez wants the chairman of the country's Games and Amusement Board (GAB) to temporarily freeze Pacquiao's boxing licence to prevent him fighting on December 6.
That came as GAB chairman Eric Buhain admitted Thursday he had asked the World Boxing Council (WBC) to cancel the non-title fight because he believed the Filipino slugger stood no chance against the celebrated De La Hoya.
The request, he said, was denied by the WBC, which said it came too late in the day.
Rodriguez said De La Hoya, who is about five inches (13 centimetres) taller and has a five-inch reach advantage “will kill the smaller and lighter Manny.”
“This boxing bout is just about money. Pacquiao has no chance. We have to protect him. He is a national treasure,” he lamented.
Twenty-nine-year-old Pacquiao, who has 47 wins against three losses and two draws, knocked out David Diaz in June to win the WBC's lightweight belt, becoming the first Asian to win titles in four different weight classes.
It was his 35th KO in 52 fights but has done nothing to allay fears Pacquiao is on a hiding to nothing at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas against “Golden Boy” De La Hoya, a boxing legend who remains one of the sport's top draws.
President Gloria Arroyo's spokeswoman, Lorelei Fajardo, on Thursday weighed into the controversy, calling on everyone to leave the decision to Pacquiao.
“A defeat does not diminish his (Pacquiao's) glory or the honour he has won for our nation. He will always remain a modern day hero for his courage and bold daring,” she added.