Pacquiao election rival calls for Bradley fight to be halted

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippine election commission will decide on Tuesday whether a boxing match between Manny Pacquiao, who is standing in May’s vote, and American welterweight champion Timothy Bradley violates polling rules.

Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, who is running for Senator in the May 2016 national elections, speaks to supporters during the start of elections campaigning in Mandaluyong city, Metro Manila February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Janis Alano

On May 9, more than 54 million people in the Philippines will vote for a president, vice-president, 300 lawmakers and thousands of local government posts.

Pacquiao, who has courted controversy with comments against gays and same-sex marriage, is running for one of 12 vacant seats in the Senate, the upper house of parliament.

Pacquiao, a former eight division world champion, said he will make his final ring appearance on April 9 in Las Vegas against Bradley, the reigning WBO welterweight champion.

Walden Bello, a former congressman, has asked the election commission to investigate whether the bout gives Pacquiao undue advantage at the polls because of high-profile advertising and publicity surrounding the boxing match.

Chairman Andres Bautista told reporters his commission would discuss Pacquiao’s case on Tuesday.

A left-wing politician and a rival of Pacquiao for one of the Senate seats, Bello said he did not want the commission to disqualify the boxer and urged Pacquiao to postpone the fight.

“Postponement is an option for Manny if he wants to continue running for Senator,” Bello said.

There was no immediate comment from Pacquiao. Boxing experts said it will be difficult to postpone the match because the two sides had signed a contract.

Last week, the world’s largest sportswear-maker, Nike Inc, ended its sponsorship deal with Pacquiao after the Filipino boxer described gays as “worse than animals”.

Pacquiao remains popular in the Philippines, where opinion polls rank him 8th among four dozen candidates running for Senate seats.

Reporting By Manuel Mogato; Editing by Janet Lawrence