ABU DHABI // Manny Pacquiao, the first boxer to win world titles in seven weight divisions, should have been nominated for the Laureus Sportsman of the Year, according to two reigning champions.
Amir Khan, Britain’s WBA world light welterweight champion, and Vitali Klitschko, the WBC heavyweight champion, maintained Pacquiao’s absence from the five-strong nominees list left them feeling disappointed.
“Manny is pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world,” said Khan. “I’m very surprised he’s not on the list. In the last few years he’s fought [Juan Manuel] Marquez, Oscar [De la Hoya], Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto. He’s had some big fights and I’m surprised he’s not a contender.”
Khan said Pacquiao’s reluctance to embrace celebrity-status beyond his native shores of the Philippines had not helped his cause.
“Few boxers get that level of publicity,” he said. “If it was someone like Floyd Mayweather, who is a bigger name and attraction, then maybe [a nomination would be possible]. But although Manny is huge for what he has done in the game, there is that thing about his image which stops him being massive around the world.”
Klitschko echoed Khan’s view on the Filipino fighter. “Champions like Pacquiao are bringing boxing to another level and the sport needs heroes,” said the Ukraine boxer.
“If I had the chance, as a boxer, I would have voted for Pacquiao, but it was never a situation – he wasn’t on the shortlist. There are a lot of champions around and you can’t give everyone an award. Still, it’s disappointing.”
Laureus’s two-part voting process sees a selection panel of international media compile a shortlist, before Laureus Academy members vote by secret ballot to select the winners.
Author: Euan Megson