MANILA, Philippines—From “champion in recess” to Champion for Life.
Manny Pacquiao may have been unceremoniously stripped of his World Boxing Association welterweight title and failed to reclaim it against Yordenis Ugas, but he would be retiring with a championship that would be with him forever.
WBA President Gilberto Mendoza decided to name Pacquiao as the sanctioning body’s Champion for Life just a few hours before the Ugas bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Mendoza personally apologized to Pacquiao for the confusion regarding the title with the Filipino sporting icon telling him that it’s nothing personal.
“Thank you for being such a nice gentleman, thank you for your understanding,” said Mendoza during his visit that was posted on his Instagram account. “I was fooled, and I’m sorry about it.”
“This is the 100 years of the WBA, the centennial year, you’re gonna be a Champion for Life. I’ll have a belt made and we’ll come with a resolution later.”
“No it’s okay,” retorted Pacquiao. “You don’t need to say sorry, you’re doing a good job.”
Pacquiao won the WBA Super welterweight title from Keith Thurman in July 2019 but went inactive for 25 months deciding to sit out the whole of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This stretch of inactivity prompted the WBA to relegate him to “champion in recess” status in January 2021, elevating Ugas to Super status.
Mendoza added that he would fly to Manila in September to officially award Pacquiao with the new belt.
“I had to do it personally Manny because you behaved like a real gentleman and taught lessons to others,” said Mendoza. “I hope to see you soon in Manila with the belt and everything else.”