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Pacquiao landing knockout blows vs rivals with massive media coverage

/ 06:15 AM April 09, 2016
In this Monday, April 4, 2016, photo, boxer Manny Pacquiao, of the Philippines works out in front of reporters and photographers at the Wild Card gym in Los Angeles. Pacquiao is scheduled to fight Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas on Saturday, April 9. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

In this Monday, April 4, 2016, photo, boxer Manny Pacquiao, of the Philippines works out in front of reporters and photographers at the Wild Card gym in Los Angeles. Pacquiao is scheduled to fight Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas on Saturday, April 9. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

WIN OR LOSE in his mega-bucks fight this weekend, boxing legend Manny Pacquiao will be landing knockout blows against his political rivals with priceless media coverage ahead of national elections.

The eight-time world champion is running for a Senate seat and controversially scheduled his bout against Timothy Bradley Jr. in Las Vegas just one month ahead of polling day.

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The fight will ensure most Filipinos will be fixated on him as they watch live broadcasts on Sunday morning (Manila time), while the media coverage of the buildup has already gifted him tens of millions of dollars worth of free advertising.

It is a strategy that has rivals fuming, accusing him of below-the-belt tactics that circumvent election campaign advertisement spending laws.

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“If he had a sense of sportsmanship he wouldn’t be staging the fight just one month before the elections,” said senatorial candidate Walden Bello, who filed a failed legal challenge to reschedule the bout.

More neutral observers also point out that Pacquiao is gaining an unfair advantage.

“His only source of publicity is his fights, not his (political) platform. It is too much of an advantage,” Sixto Brillantes, former head of the Commission on Elections, told AFP.

While his rivals have traveled across the sprawling archipelago to promote their credentials in recent months, Pacquiao has not bothered to hit the hustings, aside from an appearance in Manila, when the election campaign was launched in February.

“His form of campaigning is the bout,” Brillantes said.

Pacquiao, 37, has said his fight will likely be the last of his career so he can pursue his long-held political ambitions. He is hoping a stint in the Senate will serve as a platform for an eventual presidential run.

In a celebrity-obsessed nation where movie stars become powerful politicians, the high school dropout could indeed defy his lack of education and one day lead the nation of more than 100 million people.

Pacquiao has for the past six years been a member of the Lower House. His critics say he’s done little as a politician to help ordinary Filipinos, pointing out he has had one of the worst attendance records in Congress.

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