Rep. Manny Pacquiao continues to enjoy popular support from his provincemates. FOTO BY COCOY SEXCION

World boxing champion and Philippine congressman Manny Pacquiao was greeted by fans and supporters with the usual homecoming fanfare he has been receiving over the last five years.

Looking very fit, he indulged the local press here in a Q&A session, answering the hottest issues over his recent fight with Juan Manuel Marquez which ended in a majority win, albeit disputed, for the Sarangani congressman.

He effectively doused off howls over Marquez’ alleged foul tactics and said stepping on one’s foot is part of the game of boxing.  Sometimes, when a southpaw and an orthodox boxer clash, they become more accidental rather than part of the tactical battle plan.

Pacquiao nevertheless showed his sports statesmanship by giving Marquez his due.

Marquez, he said, is a good boxer.

The Mexican clearly had a battle plan, which he implemented to a T.

Pacquiao said as much as he wanted to please the boxing fans by knocking out the gritty and wily Mexican, it was not meant to be that night.

He said he might have over trained for the match.

But evidently, not only was Pacquiao unable to put an exclamation point in his trilogy with Marquez, he was clearly not in his element on fight night.

There may have been no distractions during his 10-week training leading up to the fight with Marquez.  But days before the fight, a supposed rift between him and wife Jinkee went around the buzz.  Pacquiao however immediately denied reports of a falling off relationship with his wife.

He also reportedly had a celfone-throwing match with trainer Alex Ariza days before the match.  The incident was witnessed by three people only but none of them are now talking about it.

A friend of the Sarangani congressman who watched the fight in Las Vegas recently confided that Manny has some big personal problems not related to boxing and these clearly are bothering the Filipino champion.

Whatever they are, the many tasks and concerns of Manny outside of boxing are now taking their toll on him.

Manny is no longer the boxer he was before he knocked out Erik Morales in ten rounds in their 2005 rematch.

He has been deluged with endorsement offers, personal appearances and other commitments in addition to his election as a congressman.

Pacquiao himself said his boxing days will soon came to and end.

“Few more fights,” said in the local dialect in a press conference during his arrival Thursday.

One of these is the fight boxing fans all wanted to see, a mega match up with Floyd Mayweather Jr that could make him a Philippine billionaire twice over in a single night.

He confirmed that negotiations are being made to make the fight possible by next year.

Other than that, Pacquiao said he has not immediate fight plan.  He said he wants to enjoy the holidays with his family and friends.

He should extend that holiday with his family and reflect on his professional and political future.

No matter what his advisors and hangers on are saying, the Filipino boxing icon has reached the point where the tasks of being a public official and at the same time a world boxing champion are already becoming a conflict.

Pacquiao may still be an excellent fighter in the next five years.  But he can’t be the same fighter he is today if his time will continuously be divided by his passion for politics and love for the professional sports.

Pacquiao needs to be in his element in order to be effective.

Right now, he is slowly losing that effectiveness.