GOYANG, South Korea — Manny Pacquiao took pity on DK Yoo and settled for a six-round unanimous decision in their exhibition match Sunday afternoon at the KINTEX.
Throwing mostly body blows and not as many head shots in their six-round two-minute-per-round bout, Pacquiao still scored a knockdown late but Yoo miraculously got up and continued fighting.
It was Pacquiao’s first ring appearance in 16 months and it seems the Yoo showdown won’t be his last.
“It was nice to be back in the ring especially with this exhibition fight,” Pacquiao said on top of the ring.
Pacquiao rocked Yoo a few times and could have easily flattened Yoo or forced the South Korean referee to call a mercy halt.
But given his kind nature, Pacquiao held back his punches and instead focused on body blows rather than the potentially deadly headshots from elite boxers Yoo was obviously not used to.
At one point, Pacquiao even gestured that the referee should decide to step in and prevent Yoo from taking more punches.
The third man didn’t heed his call, something Yoo would have wanted.
Yoo had his moments, too.
But those were not punch-related.
Yoo shuffled a couple times to show Pacquiao that he was still in fighting mood but it turned out to be just all for show as the hometown fighter’s tank was near-empty.
Only the floor area of the venue that was set up for about 4,500 seats was filled and only portions of the upper seats were occupied, a stark contrast to the arenas Pacquiao packed in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas and elsewhere.
Still, given the nature of the fight — which was just an exhibition — it was understandable that the turnout was low.
But the response of the Korean public was terrific.
Pacquiao’s dressing room had a seemingly endless line of autograph-seekers and fans wanting to have their pictures taken with the future Hall of Famer.
As to whether Pacquiao will be making a return remains up in the air.
Although Pacquiao hinted at another fight, he didn’t make it clear if it’s going to be a regular, sanctioned fight or one more exhibition.
“I will continue my training to get back in shape when I get back home,” Pacquiao said.
A rematch with Floyd Mayweather is one matchup that is sure to be a box-office hit but it takes two to tango.
“I don’t have an idea (if a Mayweather fight can happen) because he always changes his decision,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao is flying back to Manila late Monday night to get ready for the celebration of his 44th birthday on Saturday.
And with Christmas and New Year fast approaching, boxing is expected to take the back seat.
But not for long.