GOVERNMENT Officials continue to call Philippine boxer and Senator Emmanuel D. Pacquiao, Sr. their “Champ,” even after his unanimous defeat against World Boxing Association (WBA) (Super) welterweight defender Yordenis Ugás Hernández on Sunday, also stating that the chances were influenced by the sudden competitor substitution.

“After decades of victories in the ring, he continues to improve and to challenge himself, and to fight with the same spirit and humility he had as an amateur boxer. I am so proud of him, as his kumpadre (friend), as a colleague, as a Filipino. Salamat (Thank you), Sen. Manny!” said Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri in a Viber message.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said in a Viber message that he still deems Mr. Pacquiao his champion, saying “a fighter is a fighter, win or lose” in Filipino, following that Mr. Ugás was not supposed to be his competitor anyway. Samar Representative Edgar M. Sarmiento had a similar thinking, saying in a statement that if Mr. Pacquiao had “prepared longer for Ugás, the result would have been different.”

“Manny understood his own performance; his body wouldn’t adjust; so why did he fight an opponent whose past move he hadn’t studied at all?” said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. in a Twitter message, “I guess he never runs from a fight.”

“When he comes back, we hope that Pacman the legislator will now focus his energy in our country’s fight to defeat this grave crisis aggravated by the Covid pandemic, including his crusade to knock out corruption in the government,” said House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani T. Zarate in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Palace said senator and boxing champ Emmanuel D. Pacquiao’s loss to Cuba’s Yordenis Ugás in Las Vegas would not diminish the honor he gave to the country.

“Public support to Senator Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pacquiao’s boxing career has always been unwavering, including his latest fight with Yordenis Ugás,” presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said in a statement.

“The boxing icon’s loss in Las Vegas would not diminish the honors he bestowed to our country and the joy he gave to our people,” he added.

Mr. Pacquiao, who is believed to be seeking the presidency at next year’s polls, was voted out as president of the ruling party chaired by President Rodrigo R. Duterte after he came out against state corruption.

The President in June said he would campaign against Mr. Pacquiao if he fails to identify corrupt government officials.

The boxing champ has also criticized Mr. Duterte’s handling of the country’s sea dispute with China. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan with Russell Louis C. Ku