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Manny Pacquiao to meet with Obama today

Feb 15, 2011, 10:05 AM EDT

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A few months back I proposed that President Obama meet with Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. over a beer at the White House, so that we could finally get this fight scheduled. Well, at least Manny showed up. While Mayweather remained occupied with other things today, Pacquiao traipsed around Capitol Hill as a guest of Sen. Harry Reid, and will have lunch with the Obamas in a few minutes. Proving that Pac-Man is, first and foremost, a politician.

Back before he got the Justin Bieber haircut, Pacquiao boasted that he got Reid re-elected by way of several campaign appearances before members of Nevada’s burgeoning Filipino population. he also said that he did the same for Jerry Brown. The Las Vegas Sun:

Now, in a way, it’s Reid’s turn to campaign for Pacquiao — whose official purpose in making the visit to D.C. is to promote the boxer’s upcoming fight.

“He and I come from opposite sides of the globe. But in our hearts, we come from the same place,” Reid said, adding that he was sure he wouldn’t last more than a few seconds if left in a ring with Pacquiao, an eight-time world champion.

Reid spent more time stressing Pacquiao’s other accomplishments, however: those as a humanitarian, campaigning against human trafficking, and those as a representative, helping his rural province of Sarangani in the Philippines.

“He knows it’s not enough just to fight for yourself … or to be a world champion many times over,” Reid said. “You have to be a champion for others.”

Pacquiao faces Manny Pacquiao Shane Mosley for the WBO welterweight title on May 7 at MGM Grand Garden arena in Las Vegas. And being a politician, Pacquiao knows that there’s no better way to promote the event than a trip to Washington. If you can’t fight Mayweather, and at least you can lunch with Obama.

As Pacquiao’s stock rises (he was recently voted pound-for-pound Fighter of the Decade by Ring Magazine), Reid knows a good thing when he sees it. Having some of that toughness rub off would do him well in the two years leading up to the next elections.

Harry Reid returns favor as Manny Pacquiao visits Washington [Las Vegas Sun]