Philippine poll agency may block broadcasts of Pacquiao's last fight

Tue Mar 1, 2016 7:16am EST
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MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines' election commission on Tuesday said it may bar local broadcasts of boxing icon Manny Pacquiao's bid to win back the world welterweight title next month because it could give him an unfair advantage over rival candidates in an election a month later.

The 37-year-old former world champion will fight American Timothy Bradley, reigning WBO welterweight champion, for a third time in April, exactly a month before he contests an election for one of 12 vacant seats in the upper house of Congress.

The bout is being billed as Pacquiao's last fight, as the sporting hero brings down the curtain on a career that saw him crowned world champion in eight different weight divisions.

"We have some form of control, or regulatory supervision, over entities which have a franchise during the election period," Andres Bautista, chairman of the Commission on Elections, said

Bautista said the commission could prohibit public broadcasts in the Philippines of the fight.

"That could be possible, but as to whether we can stop him from fighting, that's different."

The poll body has given Pacquiao, a two-term congressman, five days to comment on the issue before making a final ruling on whether the bout violates election rules.

Bautista said the poll body's law department has presented several options for Pacquiao, including a partial restriction on the airing of his fight.

Earlier, Pacquiao said it was difficult to postpone the bout and pointed out that he had also fought a month before polling in past elections.   Continued...

Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, who is running for Senator in the May 2016 vice-presidential election, speaks to supporters during the start of national elections campaigning in Mandaluyong city, Metro Manila February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Janis Alano