International boxing icon Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao, a hero in his native Phillipines, was knocked to the canvas Sunday night during his fight against Juan Manuel Marquez. Seeking answers, his grieving mother, Dionesia, blamed the loss on her son's recent switch from Catholicism to a Protestant sect.
"That’s what he gets for changing his religion,” Dionisia Pacquiao said in an interview in General Santos City, according to Inquirer.net.
Previously, the welterweight had worn his Catholic faith on his sleeve, ABS-CBNnews.com reports. Speaking with the site, boxing analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz said certain "rituals" seemed to bring a special significance to the boxer's bouts.
“In the past, he put the rosary around his neck and prayed solemnly in one corner,” Nathanielsz said.
Dionisia Pacquiao told television program GMA 7 that her son's new "Protestant pastors" had distracted the athlete and caused him to lose sleep by studying the Bible, according to Yahoo!
"Why did they take my son?" she said, "when he was quiet and was a champion when he belonged to his former religion?"
As Yahoo! notes, fans and local journalists picked up on Dionisia Pacquiao's comments, taking to Twitter to add to the religious speculation.
The Philippine Star's Bobit S. Avila said he received texts from others in the country, some of who also blamed religion for the defeat.
In a recent interview with ESPN The Magazine, Manny Pacquiao opened up to journalist Jeremy Schaap about a variety of topics, including his religion. A short excerpt from the interview goes:
SCHAAP: [Trainer Freddie] Roach has said you've become more religious, and he's concerned that will affect the way you fight. How do you respond to that concern?
PACQUIAO: It doesn't bother my boxing.
SCHAAP: You're the same boxer you were?