Philippine boxing icon Manny Pacquiao said on Thursday he was still “hungry” to fight, despite a dalliance with professional basketball that has had his team worried sick.
The 35-year-old, who has world titles in eight weight divisions under his belt, made a lackluster pro ball debut on Sunday, a month before his World Boxing Organization title defense against undefeated American Chris Algieri in Macau.
“I’m still hungry and I’m doing what I did before,” the Filipino said in a teleconference call with the press from his training camp in the southern Philippine city of General Santos.
“What we’re doing right now is to get back the hungriness and the focus and the killer instinct that the people want.”
Pacquiao said basketball, the number one sport in the Philippines, was his other love—but that he is fully focused on boxing at the moment.
“Basketball is also good to have, you know, footwork and balancing. It helps a lot,” he said, describing it as his “cross-training” activity.
His US promoter Bob Arum said he had got wind of Pacquiao’s plans to play in the professional Philippine Basketball Association beforehand and admitted: “I wasn’t very happy.”
“NBA [US National Basketball Association] players are fantastic physical specimens and yet they get injured all the time,” he added.
But Arum said Pacquiao assured him he will play no more pro ball until after the Macau bout.
“After the fight . . . if he wants to try out for New York Knicks that’s OK with me.”