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Manny Pacquiao interview hits below the belt on gay marriage

Manny Pacquiao v Juan Manuel Marquez

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Manny Pacquiao knocks back Juan Manuel Marquez with a left to the body in the first round during the WBO world welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 12, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Manny Pacquiao Media Day Workout

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HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 20: Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines trains on the speed bag during a media workout at the Wild Card Boxing Club on April 20, 2011 in Hollywood, California.


Manny Pacquiao threw a punch at the president's position on same-sex that marriage that appeared to have to hit below the belt.

The Filipino boxer, named the 4th "Most Influential Athlete" in the world this year by Forbes, trains in Los Angeles. On Friday night, he gave a controversial, exclusive interview to the Examiner from his residence at the Palazzo.

In addressing President Obama's stance on legalizing gay marriage, Pacquiao, a devout Roman Catholic, said "God's words first ... obey God's law first before considering the laws of man." The Pacquiao interview then contextualized the sentiment with a reference to the punishing Leviticus 20:13:

"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

It was not immediately clear if the Bible quote was spoken by Pacquiao or written by the interviewer. In either case, the message was reported, and spread, causing an all-in Internet rumble over the phrase "put to death." It even prompted a response from real estate developer and L.A. mayor candidate Rick Caruso saying Pacquaio was not welcome at The Grove, which is located across the street from the Palazzo. Pacquaio had been scheduled to appear on "Extra" at The Grove today.

The fighter went on in the interview to say, "God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married." That message, and only that message, was reiterated in Wednesday's early round of clarifications, in a statement posted on Pacquaio's official website:

Manny Pacquiao has never stated that anyone in the Gay Community deserved death. His statements were taken out of context, and were not his opinion. Pacquiao is simply against the marriage of anyone that is not Man and Woman as he believes is stated in the Bible. "I didn’t say that, that’s a lie… I didn’t know that quote from Leviticus because I haven’t read the Book of Leviticus yet," he said. Pacquiao does not now and has never believed that people deserve death because of their sexual orientation.

The controversy may adversely affect the growing 'PacMan' global brand, say industry insiders. Pacquiao currently has advertising deals with Hennesy, HP computers, Nike and Gatorade, notes KPCC's The Madeleine Brand Show. Some of those companies are already feeling the backlash via social media, says Sports Business Journal writer Bill King.

If you look at Hennessy’s Facebook page, you’ve got people saying I’m pouring out my Hennessy, you better disassociate yourself from this guy right now. The cycle on these stories is now… moves so rapidly, it used to be a brand would have two or three days to sort out what it’s going to do. People are now people are calling for things immediately.

Lisa Brenner can be reached via Twitter @lisa_brenner

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