Category Archives: Manny Pacquiao

Edwin Salazar of Oz

It will be 10 years this October since Edwin Salazar moved from Cebu to Australia. A top engineer with a topspin in tennis that mimics Rafa Nadal’s, Edwin works as a Senior Stormwater Asset Engineer for the Gold Coast City Council. He helps ensure that the city’s flood mitigation and stormwater drainage infrastructure performs well.

With tennis, while Edwin used to play five times a week here in Casino Español, now he plays twice weekly. He joins the bi-annual Filipino Tennis Open (playing singles and doubles) and has recently been recruited to a team that plays competition in a club where Sam Stosur picked up the game. Edwin’s weapon of choice: the Volkl V Sense racket.

Gold Coast City is 85 kms. from Brisbane. And so, two weeks ago and together with his wife Pipin, daughter Wren and friend Marevil Gladman, they watched The Battle of Brisbane.

“As early as April, the hype can be felt by the 6,000 Filipinos living in Gold Coast,” said Edwin, of the city that will host the 2018 Commonwealth Games. “During my chat with customers at The Filipino Shop (the one-stop grocer owned by the family and run by Pipin), almost all the men bought tickets. At that time, I was told the tickets were selling fast and some sections have been sold out. In the nightly news, Bob Arum said that 40,000 tickets have been sold in the 50,000-capacity stadium.”

At first, Edwin was unsure to watch. But upon the prodding of his parents, Doroteo and Zenaida, and his nephew Carlo, he bought tickets in May. Rushing to buy them before they sold out, Edwin bought four online tickets that were three times the listed price.

Na-ilad pod ko (I also got fooled) just like some of the spectators,” he said with a good laugh, paying AUD$197 apiece plus booking fees for a total $1,012.26 (about Php44,4400) for four tickets.

“Three days before the fight,” Edwin said, “Pipin found out that Pacquiao was holding nightly prayer meetings at Sofitel Hotel, where he was staying. So off we went. Aside from being curious, I was interested to experience what it was like to be at Manny’s prayer meetings.”

Edwin recounts the experience:

“I attended the second prayer meeting of Manny at Sofitel. I was standing beside Buboy Fernandez while the preaching was going on. I also saw Dyan Castillejo milling with the Filipinos inside the function ‘prayer’ room. Everyone was welcome to attend. The limiting factor was the room capacity. My estimate, about 250 curious Pinoys were cramped inside the room. And maybe another 250 more standing on the hall way as the security had to advise the others to leave the room due to the numbers going beyond the design & safety room capacity. We stayed for about 2 hours, from start to finish. At 6pm as we walked in the hotel — the lobby was overflowing of curious Pinoys. When we finally found the function room, all seats were taken except the stairs and a few spaces along the end wall.

What was it like?

I was impressed with how the meeting was well organised. I was expecting for Manny to walk in and preach or a at least a Pinoy preacher to preach. But Manny asked a professional American preacher imported from Las Vegas — apparently the same preacher Manny hires in Las Vegas. A Pinoy choir opened the prayer meeting; Manny just welcomed the Pinoys and said maybe max of 5 sentebces and the pro preacher took over. At the end of the prayer meeting, Manny slipped through and internal door and escaped the hundreds of pinoys standing along the hallway and later at the lobby waiting for the opportunity to see him. But Manny was too quick to be caught.”

Reminiscing on his fight day experience, Edwin was proudest of the moment before the fight started when our national anthem was sung. “I admit,” he said, “that was one of the times that I was very proud to sing the Pambansang Awit.”

Inside the Suncorp Stadium, Edwin recalls the boisterous hometown crowd. “At our section, the Jeff Horn supporters were very vocal even before the fight started,” he said. “And the nosiest one happens to sit (or stand) in front of my seat. As some of them had a few drinks in the nearby pubs, that even made them noisier.”

During the fight, Edwin and his family sensed that Pacquiao was losing. But then Round 9 came.

“Everyone stood up cheering for Pacquiao as he kept pounding Horn at the end of the 9th round,” Edwin said. “Like everyone else, we felt Horn will be finished in the 10th round. But when Horn was announced as the winner in the end, ‘naminghoy ming tanan.’ The ‘ka minghoy’ atmosphere was felt among the Filipinos riding the train going back.”

The following day at The Filipino Shop, Edwin spoke to many Filipinos and they were still downtrodden, in disbelief at the outcome.

“My friends, Eddie and Jaime Murrillo, believe Manny underestimated Horn’s strength and toughness,” he added. “But some thought Manny gave the game away to have a rematch.”

Come home, Manny

(Photo: AFP-JIJI)

The result was controversial but this verdict is unanimous: Pacquiao was tired. He’ll turn 40 next December 17. The past year, he’s been busy crafting Senate laws and not busy crafting his punching paws.

Round 9 was the bout’s most crucial stage. Horn looked wobbly. His legs were rickety and wavering; his mind was unsteady. The Pacquiao of 2010 would have feasted on Horn like he were an Australian tenderloin steak. He’d have battered and pulverized him. Like Mike Tyson, our Pinoy would have hammered the enemy for a KO.

Instead, Pacquiao employed a different KO: Kulang Offense. In Round 10, just as we all stood up (like we did in the house of Ray and Letty Patuasi), what did we witness instead from Pacquiao’s last three rounds? Same old, same old.

Had Manny won those last nine minutes — which he should have, after that Round 9 near-stoppage — he’d have retained the WBO crown. Why? Because while judge Waleska Roldan still would have given the win for Horn; the score for Chris Flores would have been 114-all while Ramon Cerdan would have scored 115-113, in favor of Pacquiao. Given this draw scenario, the champ retains the belt. In summary: Manny should have won the fight had he not been exhausted in the last three rounds.

My thoughts? First, I think “hambugero and kompyansya ra kaayo si” Manny with this bout. He was dismissive of the Australian, belittling him as a nobody. If this were chess (and Manny loves chess), he used Horn as a pawn for a future clash against Mayweather or Marquez. What he didn’t realize was the pawn was huge; always pushing, head-butting him multiple times to unleash that torrent of blood; that Horn wasn’t awed or scared of the 51,000 in attendance; that he had nothing to lose and Horn was relaxed and at home, comfortably sleeping in his own Brisbane bed surrounded by his family and townmates.

In contrast, Manny looked small, physically and figuratively. He was pushed, elbowed, and shoved to the ropes.

Pacman forgot that his opponent was nicknamed Hornet. By nature, the hornet is an insect that doesn’t just float around the garden like a harmless butterfly. The hornet stings and bites. Based on Wikipedia, “Hornets are often considered pests, as they aggressively guard their nesting sites when threatened.”

Jeff The Hornet was a pest to Pacman, aggressively guarding his nesting site called Brisbane, Australia.

But as sad as the loss was to Manny, I consider it a blessing-in-disguise for the Senator, the man who vowed to retire from boxing while he campaigned. Why a blessing? Because had he won, his boxing ego would have enlarged and he’d consider three more fights. What if — and let’s remember that boxing is a brutal and bloodthirsty game — he’d be injured so bad as to cause lasting damage? With the loss, Pacquiao is down to either of two choices: retire or revenge.

I’d seek revenge. But only for one last time. And since it will be his very, very, very last alternation, Manny should come home. Forget the money. Do it for the Filipinos. So here’s the plan:

December 17, 2017. That’s a Sunday. Venue: the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena, larger than Suncorp Stadium. One last victory to celebrate his birthday.

Pacmania in Australia

Before today, Jeff Horn was a nobody. Outside of Australia, he was, “Jeff, who-rn?” He may be undefeated and won 16 times but those wins came against the most unfamiliar of names: Ali Funeka, Rico Mueller and Randall Bailey. Who are these guys? Soccer midfielders?

Compared to Manny Pacquiao’s resume: the listing of Who’s-Who that he’s defeated include De La Hoya, Hatton, Morales, Barrera and Mosley. That’s why with Manny, the odds are -600. To earn $100, you bet $600. With Horn, it’s +400. This means that your $100 bet for the Aussie will earn you quadruple your investment. (Willy Puno and I made a bet: I owe him dinner if Manny wins by decision; he pays a Marco Polo buffet if Manny scores by KO.)

Which makes this fight remarkable. In the “Battle of Brisbane,” a world champion Hall of Fame invader nicknamed Pacman is fighting a hometown hero who was born and raised in Brisbane. How exciting it is today to be in Australia? (Plus the temperature in Brisbane today is perfect: 9 to 18C.)

Tou know who financed the fight? It’s the Queensland government. It’s called sports tourism. The thousands of people who’ll flood Brisbane and the millions of Australian dollars that will be pumped into the local economy — plus the millions of eyeballs watching on TV from Surigao to Seattle to Sydney — this brings brand promotion for Down Under.

“There is tremendous excitement for this fight — it is something really special,” said Bob Arum. “The whole country has caught on. Every newspaper, front page, back page, all over the television. The country has really embraced this event.”

Andrew Mackinnon, a Brisbane resident, agrees.

“There’s a buzz around the town Horn is on every TV show,” said Andrew, the son of the legendary football coach Graeme Mackinnon. “The media are giving it to the Pac man saying he is showing this fight no respect. Arriving an hour late to interviews and on his phone when at the interviews. There has been 95% of money bet on the fight for Horn to win even though he is the underdog. The fight is a sellout 52000 and every venue showing the fight will be bursting at the seams.”

Andrew will be watching at a local Brisbane club where, his dad says, there will be plenty of Filipinos and where he’ll practice his “Kamusta” and all the Tagalog and Bisaya words that he knows.

With Pacquiao’s antics — coming in late during interviews and fiddling with his phone during the entire press conference — I believe this is a deliberate move. He’s playing mind games with the neophyte, as if to tell him, “I’m the 11-time world champ.”

But this hasn’t endeared Pacman to the locals. 

“Manny has lost some points and respect with the Aussies with his attitude,” said Graeme. This has turned into the bad-guy/good-guy fight, with Graeme adding, “Horn is such a humble guy; a school teacher when not boxing.”

What’s interesting, added Graeme, is Suncorp Stadium. “Last Friday at 9 p.m., there was a big Rugby League game being played there in front of possibly 30,000 spectators. As soon as the game was finished, the transformation of the stadium into a fight venue began,” Graeme said.

“There is an air of expectancy because this is the biggest fight in Australia history. Horn is unknown. But I would not take the unknown for granted; it might come back to bite you. Of course, we want Horn to win but we are also paying homage to one of the greatest boxers of all time. Everyone is hoping for a long fight.”

Manny Pacquiao City

When Dr. Ronald Eullaran invited us to his hometown of Gen. Santos City last April, we said yes. Who can say no to one of the nicest and funniest (and best) doctors in Cebu?

With Dr. Ron and his wife Raycia (and their son, Ryane), our group included James and Jewel Co, their son, Alex, plus me and Jasmin. It was a three-day getaway loaded with plenty of eating (fresh tuna, steak at the Dole clubhouse, and the best-tasting crabs in Gusteau’s).

We also made sure to allocate most of the mornings to an activity we love best: biking. On our first day, we woke up before 5 a.m. and pedaled the western portion of Sarangani Bay. We biked for over 40 kms., a trek that included several uphill battles as we passed through Tambler and reached Maasim. Our wives (Raycia, Jewel and Jasmin) would not be outdone. They ran the streets of the city formerly known as Dadiangas.

Our hosts for that weekend were Dr. Ron’s mom — Mrs. Dhel Eullaran — and Ron’s sister, Atty. Elvie Albano. Her husband, a top lawyer and businessman, Josemar Albano, ran a 60K race that Sunday. As Josemar finished in Susan’s Beach in Maasim, we converged in the same area to congratulate the ultramarathoner (a week later, Josemar would run the Great Wall of China Marathon).

While on the bike, the view was stunning. The road snaked beside the water (Sarangani Bay) and there were few cars and trucks. Biking with us was Elvie’s son, Aries, who does triathlon; we ascended a few hills and stopped to smell the fresh air and to absorb the calm blue water that overlooked.

The following morning, we did the opposite route of Sarangani Bay. We started in Greenleaf Hotel and biked for over 60 kms. As we reached the town of Glan, we stopped at the high point of the Glan Monument and took a photo: James, Ron and me. All-sweating, all-smiling with Mount Matutum in our background and Sarangani Bay beneath us, it was a photo and an experience to cherish.

PACMAN. What else did we see in Gensan, which also happens to be the hometown of my editor, Mike Limpag? Plenty of buildings labeled “JMP.” Those are the initials of my wife but they’re not her buildings. They stand for Jinkee & Manny Pacquiao. They are plenty in number and they’re numbered: JMP 1, JMP 2… and you see them, large and small, everywhere. In the JMP 2 buiding, for example. there’s one shop that’s handled by the queen: Jinkee’s Fashion World.

Right beside the Greenleaf Hotel was the Pacman Wildcard Gym. I was unable to take a peek inside but was told that Pacman visits to train and box. It’s a fitness center that offers other types of workouts: dancing, stationary cycling, Zumba and yoga. The building where his gym was located? JMP Arcade.

We passed by the house of the Senator. Surrounded by high walls, it was a massive house and was near the home of Atty. Josemar and Elvie Albano, close friends of Manny.

One more structure that Pacquiao is building is a church. In an Inquirer story dated Nov. 27, 2014, Pacquiao was said to have appropriated P295 million to build the massive church. It sits on a five hectare property (that cost P95 million) and the cost of construction is reportedly P200 million. We did not get a chance to tour “The Word for Everyone” church but the two-story building is said to include, apart from the worship arena, a bible school, a bible study room and a pastor’s lounge.

“I owe to God everything that I have right now – wealth, health, fame, success, a dutiful and beautiful wife and my wonderful children,” said Sen. Pacquiao. “I have to give it back to Him. The amount is nothing compared to what God has done to my life.”

Down Under, it’s uphill for Jeff Horn

He’s a Physical Education school teacher turned boxer. Imagine if he shocks the world next Sunday by defeating Manny Pacquiao? Though that scenario is as unlikely as Golden State relinquishing the trophy next year — what a fairytale story for the Australian.

Jeff Horn’s story is inspiring. When he was a young kid in Brisbane, he walked out of school one day only to be told to drop on his knees and say sorry.

“Get on your knees and say sorry to my mate,” the big kids said to Horn’s friend. He took a knee and got whacked. “Now you,” they told Jeff. “No,” he replied. “I didn’t do anything wrong.” They slapped Jeff’s face. “Then I just walked away,” he said. “I couldn’t fight anyone let alone fight 30 of them. I remember walking back to my mate’s place that day. I felt so annoyed and so belittled.”

That story came from the Sydney Morning Herald. Soon after that traumatic experience, Jeff entered a martial arts gym. He then slipped on a pair of boxing gloves and won the amateur state trophy. Next, the Australian title in 2009. After that, he competed in the London Olympics where, as a light welterweight, he won twice before losing in the quarters.

And now, this: the biggest fight of his life and the most consequential boxing fight in Australia. For the 29-year-old who stands 5-foot-9 and carries a 16-win, one-draw (undefeated) record, this story is remarkable. This bout wasn’t supposed to happen, remember? Pacquiao’s first choice was Amir Khan, with event in the U.A. E.

The fight next Sunday will be held in the Suncorp Stadium, a venue mainly for soccer and rugby (it hosted the 2008 Rugby League World Cup final), and the promoters are hoping for a full capacity crowd of 55,000. They’ve also priced the tickets reasonably: 27,000 seats are sold at A$100 (Php3,800) and they’ve allocated 6,000 general admission tickets at only $39 (only Php1,500).

In June of last year, I got the chance to visit Australia for the first time and, I must declare, of the numerous places that I’ve visited, Australia ranks at the very top. The weather at this time is perfect (9 to 22C). The Aussies are so relaxed and friendly. There is so much open space for bike lanes and jogging paths; lakes for kayaking and rowing; tennis courts littered everywhere; it’s an outdoor, all fresh air, let’s-go-out-and-sweat continent. Jana, Jasmin and I loved the visits to Syndey and Melbourne.

The fight will be in Brisbane and it’s scheduled at 1:30 p.m. That’s quite an awkward time for a sporting event. But they have to conform with the U.S. Saturday night schedule. So, to us here at home, it’s the same 11:30 a.m. schedule.

The odds are obviously tilted in favor of MP. But this has only given the Aussie camp more impetus in that we’re-the-underdog inspiration.

“We want Manny overconfident and dismissive of Jeff’s chances,’’ said Horn’s trainer Glenn Rushton. “Jeff’s a heavy puncher but the legs are the key to this fight. His legs are 29, Manny’s are 38. Jeff will be giving Manny all kinds of angles and controlling the distance between them. Manny’s legs aren’t as fast as they were 10 years ago. If he’s cut corners in his preparation Jeff will make him pay hard for every one of those 38 years.’’

Prize money? Pacquiao is guaranteed $10 million while Horn will receive $500,000. Computing the disparity, the Pinoy will get 20 times more than the Aussie. As lopsided as this is, Jeff Horn won’t mind. It’s his biggest paycheck ever. Not bad for a bullied kid turned PE teacher turned boxer. Reminds me of Rocky Balboa.

Pacquiao-Khan? Yes, Pacquiao can

Amir Khan is not American. He’s British. Haha. I know that’s corny but here’s a serious note: Amir Iqbal Khan is dangerous. At the age of 17, he grabbed a silver medal at the Athens Olympics. Five years later, he became one of Great Britain’s youngest ever world champions. Now 30, he sports a 31-4 record with some notable wins against Marco Antonio Barrera, Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah. He came off a five-fight winning streak prior to his brutal sixth round KO loss last May to Canelo Alvarez.

That’s the past. Come April 23, it’s sparring partner vs. sparring partner — two buddies previously under the tutelage of Freddie Roach. The story is told of their first meeting. It was October 2008 at the Wild Card Gym and Khan had just suffered his first loss after 18 wins. Against Breidis Prescott, he lasted a mere 54 seconds in the first round. One month after that shocking KO loss and on his first day back, guess who Roach asked him to spar with, as if he were a sacrificial lamb?

“People in the gym asked me if I was doing the right thing,” Roach said, after asking Khan to face then-world’s best Manny Pacquiao. “I was doing the only thing; I needed to know if Amir still wanted to be a boxer. I found out he did.”

That was eight years ago. Exactly 55 days from today, the two won’t face each other in the private confines of a Los Angeles gym but inside a massive (yet still-unannounced) stadium in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

Now the consummate internet tactician, Pacquiao created a Twitter poll asking his 118,000 followers who among the four (Khan, Jeff Horn, Terence Crawford and Kell Brook) they wanted him to fight. The response was overwhelming. The well-known Briton with Pakistani origins emerged victorious.

Pacquiao-Khan. Pacquiao can? Can the senator log his 60th win at the ripe age of 38? I sought the commentary of two of the country’s brightest experts — Philboxing.com’s founder Dong Secuya and my former UP Cebu seatmate (and top boxing judge and writer) Salven Lagumbay — and here’s their take:

DONG SECUYA: “It will be an exciting fight while it lasts. Both are familiar with each other’s style as they had many rounds of sparring. The element of surprise may have been taken out. Amir had expected this fight to happen from way back so he had probably psyched himself how to defeat Manny which may turn to his advantage. But the problem with Amir is he commits many mistakes inside the ring and with his weak jaw, a puncher like Manny would be very risky for the Brit.

“Both have speed but I think the result would depend on how Amir approaches the fight. If Amir doesn’t mix up and fight from a distance, he will have a chance to win by close point decison. If Amir fights inside, Manny will catch and knock him out. But in the end, whether Amir fights inside or outside, his propensity to have lapses inside the ring will be his undoing. One error and Manny will catch him. Just like Prescott, Garcia and the much slower

Canelo did to him. I’ve personally watched Amir spar but not with Manny but I haven’t talked to him. He seems to be a nice guy.”

SALVEN LAGUMBAY: “Stylistically this makes for an entertaining fight. I’ve watched both Pacquiao and Khan while they were still both training under Freddie Roach. Khan has the tools to match Pacquiao in terms of speed. Plus he is younger. Definitely hungry. In terms of power Pacquiao might prove a bit too much, plus the Filipino’s all-out, unorthodox style might give Khan some trouble. True, they have both sparred against each other in the past. Khan can claim he edged the Pacman in those sparring sessions. But as you know, sparring is not real fight. Oceans apart. This will be a tremendous match up, a year or two late, but still any boxing pundit’s delight. Still one of the biggest match ups available in boxing.”

SuperMan Pacquiao

Scanning the headline news just five hours after Manny Pacquiao’s victory, you’d think it was somebody else the Philippine senator faced on Saturday night. Of the two dozen articles that emerged from Philboxing.com, at least 10 of them plastered the words “Floyd Mayweather.” Sporting a 49-0 record that has matched the great Rocky Marciano’s spotless number, is there any boxing fan who believes that Mayweather won’t emerge out of retirement and target Fifty-Oh? Why would he salivate at ringside if not to pique our interest and titilate the bloggers with his comeback?

“Not bad,” said Mayweather post-fight, flashing a thumbs-up on the Pinoy’s performance.

Who gave Floyd tickets? “I invited him to be here tonight,” Pacquiao admitted, smiling and waving a fist at the American just moments before the bout as if to tease him and say, “Watch me.”

Will he or will he not do PacMay 2? This question is as unpredictable as that organ which serves as the center of the nervous system called Mayweather’s brain. As brash and loudmouth as he is, he’s reclusive; only he knows which gambit he’ll conjure. But forget Mayweather (who’ll turn 40 this February) because this fact is undeniable: Pacquiao is still our real-life superhero named SuperManny.

“His speed surprised me at the beginning, and that knockdown woke me up,” Jessie Vargas said. “He has tremendous speed, and sometimes you get caught with those quick shots you don’t see and it knocks you down.”

Haven’t we heard those words uttered by MP’s swollen-faced, battered and defaced opponents right after their skirmish? Think about these facts: Pacquiao will turn 38 on Dec. 17. He has five children. He is the playing coach of the PBA team Mahindra Floodbusters. Professionally in boxing, starting with his first bout against Edmund Inting Ignacio in Jan. 22, 1995, he has climbed the square arena, been punched in the jaw and abdomen and nose 1,001 times — and 22 years after his pro debut, he’s still the same restless, energetic and indefatigable human being.

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(Isaac Brekken/AP)

“I thought Manny performed extraordinarily well,” Arum said. “When he’s moving and punching like that, disappears around a guy and comes out on the other side throwing punches — that’s great craftsmanship.”

Watching from the beautiful home of Mario and Emma Siao and together with our close friends from the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP), the man we saw two mornings ago was possessed.

In the 11th and 12th rounds, when Vargas’ long legs wobbled and his smile turned sour and his shoulders dropped, Pacquiao was the same spitfire that he was in Round 1. He didn’t tire (he never does, not in the dozen or so times that I recall). It was the youthful champ 10 years his junior who got tired. Pacquiao’s footwork, dancing and hopping endlessly with those brick-wall legs; his head, weaving and bobbing like an unhitabble target; his arms, protecting that face and insulating that chest while pummeling and jabbing.

Who wants to see this guy retire? Not me. While we all believed his “I’ll retire once I’m a senator” talk and wished that he’d quit this game called the “Sweet Science,” now I’m convinced otherwise.

Who else will entertain us? Anyway, we know that there’s no better juggler than Pacquiao. Remember his old sinful days, when he’d gamble and womanize at night, sweat in the morning at the gym, pet his fighting cocks at 3 p.m., sing the Karaoke before dinner, play basketball, court Ara, shoot billiards, flick his wrist at darts and sign documents as Sarangani congressman?

Manny is a multi-tasker and he can jockey the work as One of the 24 and as Welterweight Number One.

“He was really busy with the senate and all of that, but he was training really hard every day,” Freddie Roach said. “We are going to have to get used to this because he’s going to be a senator for the next six years and he’s not done fighting yet.”

Money, Manny, Money

Jessie Vargas will pocket $2.8 million (Php 140 million) today.

Sen. Manny Pacquiao? The math has changed. While he was previously handed guaranteed fees (say, $20 million), now, his income will be determined mainly by the pay-per-view proceeds. Asked how much Pacquiao’s guarantee is, Bob Arum replied, “I don’t know.”

Pacquiao is taking a risk. If the PPV numbers are low, our GenSan Pinoy Pride will receive a “small” salary.

Here’s what happened: The major TV networks have declined their usual involvement with Pacquiao. While they used to collaborate and handle the PPV distribution, this time they said no. HBO and Showtime — the “middlemen”— used to earn 7.5 percent on the net proceeds. This time, Top Rank is independently producing and distributing the pay-per-view mechanism. The only way for Pacquiao to earn plenty is if the PPV numbers go high.

“We’re going to put a low number on the contract because he has really no guarantee,” Arum said. “We’ve upped his percentage of the take. He’s fighting on a percentage. We can no longer afford the tremendous guarantee he was getting based on the results in the Bradley fight. Rather than going in with a huge guarantee, we’re giving him an upside. We played it safe.”

What are the PPV predictions? Not good. Largely because Pacquiao unretired after saying he’s done with boxing and because Vargas is unknown, the hype has been muted.

senator-manny-pacquiao1

If you remember the Pacquiao-Mayweather bout, that generated a whopping 4.6 million PPV buys at $89.95 or over $400 million. Add the gate receipts and other revenue and the total exceeded $600 million. Manny pocketed over $100 million while Floyd was said to have received double that.

Here’s the problem: The hoopla for that long-awaited fight on May 2, 2015 was exaggerated. When the fight turned out to be boring and lackluster, everybody felt downtrodden. In a way, boxing suffered a letdown. So much so that the PPV numbers of the succeeding fights of other boxers may have been affected.

Take Canelo Alvarez, the Mexican star under the stable of Oscar de la Hoya. Last Sept. 17, Canelo faced the undefeated Liam Smith (who had KO’d his last eight opponents) for the WBO light-middleweight crown. While Alvarez won via a ninth round stoppage, he lost in the earnings game. Though 50,000 spectators cheered inside the AT&T Stadium in Texas, you know how many PPV buys were made? A disheartening 300,000.

Back to Pacquiao-Vargas, the PPV price in the U.S. is pegged at $59.99. Will the numbers be good? The analysts are not too optimistic. Vargas is a 1-6 underdog against Pacquiao and boxing fans seem to have wanted a clash with Terence Crawford, who sports a 29-0 (20 KO) record.

One man who is forever optimistic is the still-energetic 84-year-old Bob Arum, whom my dad Bunny and I had the chance to meet two years ago in Macau.

“A hundred million homes are going to watch this thing,” Arum boasts. “This is a worldwide event. We think so small in boxing. We don’t really capitalise on how popular globally boxing is.”

Arum was referring to the outside-America market. That’s why he enlisted China’s two-time Olympic gold medalist Zhou Shiming in the undercard.

“It’s the same as a stadium’s importance in a soccer match,” he said. “Yeah, you want the people there and you need the atmosphere.. Our arena seats about 19,000 people, it will be filled, but it’s really the millions and millions of people we’re going to reach on this telecast. This will reach more people than the Super Bowl.”

Let’s see, Bob. As to us, Pinoy fans, our hope is that Pacquiao wins for the 59th time in his pro career — despite Vargas being 10 years younger, five inches taller and with a four-inch reach advantage.

With the crowd advantage, we know who’ll have the loudest cheers. Our forever generous senator has splurged by buying 2,000 tickets for his family and friends to watch him in Las Vegas. The cost: $1 million. Exorbitant? Nah, that’s miniscule for the man Forbes magazine says has career earnings of $500 million.

Can Manny win our first Olympic gold?

Rio 2016 Logo

Ever since the Philippines competed in this once-every-four-years intramurals called the Olympics (in 1924), we have failed. By “failed,” I mean we have not triumphed at claiming the ultimate prize: the gold medal.

Onyok Velasco reached the finals of the 1996 Games in Atlanta but lost in the men’s light flyweight division. Same with Anthony Villanueva in 1964. In totality, we have accumulated two silver medals and seven bronze medals.

Will this year be different? When, finally, after 92 years of wait, Senator Manny Pacquiao will raise his General Santos-bred arms in Rio de Janeiro, applauded by over 100 million of his fellow Pinoys?

If we look back eight years ago in Beijing, the flag bearer of our nation then was Pacquiao. But he didn’t compete. Will he participate this August?

Manny Pacquiao Beijing 2008

(Getty Images)

Maybe. A massive piece of news erupted just a few days ago. For the first time in Olympic history, boxing is considering the entry of professionals.

If we examine the other sports, they all include professionals in their rosters. Take basketball. It was in 1992 when the entry of the NBA stars was allowed. That’s when the “Dream Team” was formed and Michael, Charles, Larry and Magic annihilated the competition, besting all enemies by an average margin of 44 points per game.

Today, every sport invites both amateurs and professionals to compete in the Olympics. Remember Lionel Messi representing the team in blue-and-white stripes to win the gold for Argentina in 2008? For golf, which will be reinstated in the Olympics, the likes of Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy will battle on the Rio links.

The only sport that excludes pros? Boxing. And so the International Boxing Association (AIBA) has proposed a radical move to include the pros in Brazil. This ruling is not final yet. An AIBA congress will be convened in the next few months and a final decision on this matter will be conducted.

But one man is pushing for its inclusion: the AIBA president Dr. Ching Kuo Wo.

“We want the best boxers to come to the Olympics,” said Dr. Wu in a recent Phil. Star article by Quinito Henson. “It is AIBA’s 70th birthday and we want something to change, not after four years but now. It is an IOC policy to have the best athletes in the Games and of the international federations, AIBA is probably the only one without professional athletes in the Olympics.”

Granted it gets approved, no less than Dr. Ching Kuo Wo himself has offered the 37-year-old Pacquiao a wild card (direct) entry — not having to pass through the tedious qualifying process — in the main draw of the Rio Olympics.

Will he compete? Maybe. Maybe not. But if he does, there appears to be two divisions that he can choose from: light welterweight (141 lbs.) or welterweight (152 lbs.).

Olympic boxing, as we’ve observed on TV in the past editions, is vastly different from pro boxing. During the tournament proper (to run from August 6 to 21), Olympic boxing does not involve rankings or seedings. The competitors are paired off at random and it’s a knockout system. You lose and you’re out. Each fight consists of three rounds and each round has the same three minutes.

Previously, the scoring involved five judges who would hold electronic buttons and they’d press each time a boxer connects with a hit. When three out of the five press the button, a score is counted on that boxer. All the points are tallied and the highest-pointer wins.

Not anymore. Since 2013, it’s a 10-point must system (similar to pro boxing) and the scores of three of the five judges (randomly selected by a computer) will be chosen at the end of each round. Head guards, previously a must-wear item, will no longer be used. Is MP open to competing?

“OK naman,” he said, in a GMA News interview with Mav Gonzales two days ago. “Pinag-aaralan pa kung pwede tayo (We are still studying it if it’s possible).”

Now, just imagine with me for a moment: Imagine if Manny wins next month in Las Vegas, wins in May as one of the Lucky 12, and trains to join and wins gold in Rio.

Pacman’s finale: calculated, brilliant — but boring

The last time Manny Pacquiao climbed the 20’ x 20’ boxing ring, he lost. That was last May against Mayweather. The last thing Manny Pacquiao wants to happen when he enters the boxing ring for the last time in his career — this April — is another loss.

Against a Junior named Floyd, he lost. That’s why he picked another Junior to win. Thus explains the safeguarded, humdrum, please-not-a-third-time decision to fight Timothy Ray Bradley, Jr.

The choices were plenty. There was Adrien Broner, an American like Bradley who’s fought 34 times, won 31 times, with 23 of those Ws by knockout. He’s the WBA super lightweight champ. There was Amir Khan, the 29-year-old Briton who won the 2004 Olympic silver medal in Athens. And exactly like Broner, he’s climbed the stage on 34 tries and won 31. Finally, Terence Crawford. Nicknamed “Bud” and only 28, he’s the WBO light welterweight champion.

Didn’t Bob Arum himself proclaim last November that the choice had narrowed down to either Amir Khan or Terence Crawford? In the end, familiarity wins. Caution is the parent of safety, a proverb goes. In this case, caution won.

Why risk Manny’s last act to an undefeated 27-0 Crawford? Why risk the last time we’ll remember him shirtless, sweaty and bloodied on the MGM Grand stage to Adrien Broner, who’s Ring Magazine’s No. 6 in the pound for pound rankings?

And so here we are again and again, our Pambansang Kamao facing Desert Storm — their third meeting in Manny’s last seven fights. Why? Maybe Arum has this penchant with even numbers: MP-TB met in 2012… in 2014… in 2016. It’s an every-other-year date.

What do the cynics say about April 9? Ha-ha. Brutal. It ranges from “Morales: Manny Pacquiao Choosing Timothy Bradley Not Thrilling” to “PB3 Would Continue The Wrong Tradition” to “Pacquiao vs. Bradley III: A Fight For The Delusional.”

Arum himself admits that this will be a difficult sell for his Pay-Per-View (PPV) numbers. Coming from Pacquiao’s last outing which generated over 4.4 million buys (majority of whom were very disappointed), the expectations this time are lowly.

“Will we do the same numbers for the first two Bradley fights?” Arum asked. “Probably not. We’re going to try to come as close as we can, and hopefully exceed it, but I understand what we’re up against. I’ve run my numbers and I have done my math. I’m not out here with my head up my ass.”

As charming and smiling as Bob Arum is in person (my dad Bunny and I met him in Macau two years ago), he’s the most astute and cunning of sports promoters.

The 84-year-old Arum knows his figures. The 2012 Manny-Tim bout raked in 890,000 PPV buys. Two years later, it went down to 800,000. This time, 700k? Maybe less? Arum can trumpet the contest this way: Bradley is the new Bradley; he has a new trainer in Teddy Atlas and he KO’d Brandon Rios in the 9th round last November. Plus, this is Manny’s last fight.

As to the rumors circulating that Pac-Man will fight one last time after Bradley — a rematch against Mayweather? I doubt it. It’s possible but very, very, very unlikely.

The month after Pacquiao defeats Bradley to cap an outlandish career that saw him earn billions and win the hearts of millions, he’ll win as senator of the Philippines. By then, Pacquiao’s total focus and time will be centered on another type of slugfest: the political circus.

My take on all this? Like I mentioned before in previous articles, I wished Manny would have ended his career fronting his fellow Pinoys inside the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena. But money talks. And the voice of money is, to Arum, louder than Manny’s. And it points to Las Vegas, not Bulacan.

This Bradley move, years from now, will end up to be an excellent choice for Sen. Pacquiao. He pockets $20 million. He ends his career with a bang — from his Cleto Reyes gloves. And he gains free advertising as all ears and eyes will be fixated on his victory a month before May 9.

Suggestion for Senator Manny Pacquiao

Congress

There is little doubt that, come May 9, 2016, when the elections unfold, the planet’s most famous Filipino will be admitted entry into the Senate. It’s not a question of “if” Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao will be victorious but by what ranking among the Top 12.

In the 2013 elections, Manny wanted to run as senator but he was then ineligible. He’s now 36 years of age — leapfrogging the barrier that states that one has to be 35-and-older.

Having fought a total of 65 fights in his professional career, sporting a 57-win, 6-loss and 2-draw record, Manny is nearing the end of his boxing career. You and I know this. He’s lost three of his last six and has not knocked-out an opponent since Miguel Cotto in 2009. At 36, one’s physical state is in decline. Manny knows this and he knows that he has, at best, one career-ending skirmish left in his career.

My suggestion for Pacman? Stage that finale in Manila! Do it for your Pinoy fans. Manny doesn’t need the money. He grossed $150 million when he faced Floyd Mayweather, Jr. last May in what was billed as the highest grossing fight of all time. In his career spanning two decades, he’s amassed billions of pesos.

Do it for us, Manny. You know when the last time was when Manny fought on Philippine soil? I saw that contest inside the Araneta Coliseum against Oscar Larios in July 2006. It will be 10 years next year since he’s last fought before his fellow Filipinos. The ideal time for Manny to don those gloves and fight once more is before the May elections. When he becomes senator, he said that he wants to treat it seriously and not be absent, like he’s often been as congressman. Would you believe that, as Sarangani representative, Pacquiao was present in Congress only four times in 2014?

“I will have to give up the other things that require my attention. If you are a senator, your focus should only be your job and your family,” Pacquiao said in an interview.

This admission offers an insight into Manny’s plans: Once a senator, he’ll give up boxing. “I think I’m ready (to retire). I’ve been in boxing for more than 20 years,” he said on ABS-CBN. Now that Manny’s rotator cuff tear injury appears to be healed, the target date for his next fight is February or March. It can’t be later than that because Manny still has to campaign for at least a month before we go to the polls.

Bob Arum confirmed his ward’s plans in an interview last month with Dan Rafael of ESPN: “He’s not going to run for re-election to congress. Instead, he’s running for senate, and in the Philippines, the senate is a national election. So he wants to fight and then concentrate on the campaign. It’s very important to him. I’ve spoken to Manny a couple of times (recently), and he is more interested in talking politics than boxing.”

Against who? ESPN’s Dan Rafael, one of the most respected boxing writers, said Arum revealed five possible opponents. Wrote Mr. Rafael: “The list includes leading candidate Amir Khan, a former unified junior welterweight titlist and top welterweight contender, welterweight titleholder Kell Brook, junior welterweight titlist Terence Crawford, junior welterweight contender Lucas Matthysse and Juan Manuel Marquez, the Mexican great Pacquiao has waged four outstanding fights against, going 2-1-1 but finishing the fourth fight on his face as the result of a gargantuan sixth-round knockout in December 2012… England’s Khan (31-3, 19 KOs), passed over multiple times by Mayweather, who continually mentioned him as a leading candidate only to fight somebody else, knows Pacquiao well. They sparred together when Khan was trained by Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s longtime cornerman.”

To me, the most riveting is “Pacquiao vs. Amir Khan.” The only problem? Arum wants it in Las Vegas. Not again, Bob!

Instead, come March 2016, Manny’s last boxing fight should be inside the Philippine Arena. What a farewell — and a perfect campaign rally consisting of 55,000 screaming fans all cheering for the future senator.

Manny ‘shoulders’ the blame

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Manny Pacquiao faced two opponents last weekend: an undefeated “Fun Run Champion” and an injury called the “Rotator Cuff Tear.”

Of the latter, I speak from experience. I, too, had an almost-similar injury. And like what Manny is about to undergo later this week, I went “under the knife.” I had surgery.

Mine happened five years ago. No, I’m no boxer. My sport is tennis and several years back, after shifting to marathon-running, I stopped tennis. But then I wanted to return to playing the sport of Roger Federer and, without much warm-up and take-it-easy preparation, I started to hit my serves as hard as I could.

That pronation and shoulder-twisting action from the tennis serve injured my shoulder. Hard-headed and thinking that it was temporary, I continued. The shoulder pain turned unbearable. I slept in agony; when I turned to my right, the discomfort was excruciating. I couldn’t twist my right arm counter-clockwise. I rested. Iced the shoulder. Underwent therapy. But then months ensued and, after all options were exhausted, I opted for surgery.

Jose Antonio “Tony” San Juan, the foremost sports medicine surgeon in the Visayas and Mindanao, was my doctor.

“Your condition was a rotator cuff impingement/subacromial impingement,” said Tony, who will be flying to Vietnam tomorrow with Jonel Borromeo to join Steve and Maricel Maniquis in the first-ever Ironman 70.3 Vietnam triathlon race this Sunday. “You didn’t have a tear yet at the time of surgery but if left alone you would have suffered a tear.”

Common to sports involving overhead and shoulder movements (like tennis, badminton, volleyball, boxing, baseball and swimming), my injury was due, said Tony, “to your rotator cuff getting impinged/compressed by bony overgrowth in your acromioclavicular joint (joint formed by your collarbone and extension of your shoulder blade).”

Too technical? He explains: “When we did your surgery (Subacromial Decompression), it was aimed at relieving you of the pain caused by the impingement.”

That’s the rotary cuff injury for sports involving overheard movements. Boxing? This is an entirely different animal of a game. Dr. San Juan explains the possible causes of the injury. “Untreated or undertreated impingement (like mine) may eventually lead to a tear. Another cause of a rotator cuff tear is trauma: the sudden contraction of the rotator cuff muscle that could cause it to detach from its bony attachment.”

Manny Pacquiao’’s injury, he says, involves both. “Pain and limitation of movement and function because of the pain are what needs to be addressed with the treatment,” he said.

Is there a chance that Manny’s injury will be career-ending? I’d like to answer that: Any procedure that involves surgery — especially for a fighter who’s boxed hundreds and hundreds of rounds — can be career-ending. It is possible that last Sunday was the last that we saw of Pacman on the ring.

But Tony is confident. “Present techniques for surgical treatment (Subacromial Decompression, Rotator Cuff Repair) have high rates of success,” he said, “and most are able to return to a high level of physical activity with proper care and rehabilitation.”

This is good news. The bad news? A long, long recovery process, taking as long as 9 to 12 months. “This could test the patience of an elite athlete like MP,” said Tony. Let’s remember: By then, Pacquiao will be 37.

“MP couldn’t be in better hands, though, under the care of Dr. Neal ElAttrache,” said Tony. “He is a well recognized global authority in this field who has treated the likes of Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady and Vitali Klitschko.”

Our doctor-triathlete’s suggestion for Manny? To touch base with Kobe, Brady and Kiltschko, the former heavyweight champ. I’m sure these celebrities will answer the call of Manny (especially Kobe who, like Manny, is a Nike endorser and who’s the same age).

“They’’re the best source of information and confidence heading into surgery as they have had first-hand experience,” said Tony.

Like many, Manny tried

Manny clearly lost. It was obvious. To think otherwise would mean that our eyes are tainted with bias. In my own scoring, he won only three rounds.

He convincingly won Rounds 4 and 6 — as evidenced by the unanimous scores of all three judges. Weren’t those episodes vintage Pacquiao? Him unleashing rapid-fire bullets that had Floyd hiding in his cave barricaded with his arms as shield? In rounds 4 and 6, Manny showed us the real SuperManny.

But other than those fleeting moments, he was not the same man who embarrassed Oscar de la Hoya, floored Hatton and reduced the size of the 5-foot-11 Antonio Margarito to a bloody-faced midget. He was not the mini-Mike Tyson who’d rampage and bulldoze his ferocious will over Goliaths.

Imagine being out-pointed by Floyd in the punches-thrown scorecard? And when it matters most — the actual punches that landed — Floyd connects on 34 percent while Manny limps to 19 percent? Floyd landed 67 more punches (148 vs. 81) than Manny.

Unlikely. Improbable. But it happened. And we thought that Manny The Aggressor would relinquish that let’s-play-it-safe mentality and, never mind if he’d be labeled “reckless,” that he’d attack, invade, attack, invade.

Did he suffer some flashes of memory of that moment four bouts ago against Juan Manuel Marquez — in the same ring inside MGM Grand — when he was crushed with one right hook? How he got careless and paid for it by lying motionless on the floor? Did that memory recur? Which would explain why he was hesitant and did not employ his usual blitzkrieg of weapons?

Maybe. I’ve never tried boxing. But to those who’ve been flattened before, they say you’ll never forget it; that each time you climb the ring, the nightmarish memory resurfaces.

Was it the right shoulder injury? Possible. As any athlete will tell you, when you suffer a physical trauma — during training or, worse, during the actual contest — it hobbles you. Maybe this explains why Manny threw a measly 193 jabs (versus 267 from Floyd), connecting on a paltry 9 percent. Can you believe this: Manny landed only 18 jabs in the 12 rounds. It must be the injury. Which is very unfortunate for our man.

With Mayweather, as hated as he is, you’ve got to applaud his performance. This was exactly how he planned it. This was how he won 47 prior bouts and how he’ll win two more to reach 50 and 0 and beat Rocky Marciano’s record.

Floyd is as slithery as a snake, as quick to bite back as a King Cobra. What also worked against Manny was Floyd’s 5-inch reach advantage. How Floyd took advantage of that, firing left hook after left hook (67 jabs landed, in all), keeping a faraway distance between him and Manny.

As it turns out, this fight turned out to be exactly how majority of experts projected it to play. There was no knockout. The bout lasted the full 12 episodes of three minutes each. And Floyd got his Unanimous Decision victory. This was, to borrow the cliche, “according to script.”

It was clear that if Manny was going to win, he needed to be extraordinary. He needed to “take it to Floyd.” Manny needed to take risks. We knew what Floyd was going to do: weave, jab, wait, pounce, do a shoulder roll, slap a straight right hook. For Manny to win, he needed to produce the type of heroics that one athlete was known for. That spectator was Michael Jordan.

For a 36-year-old congressman who’s fought professionally 65 times, Manny tried. But his trying was not good enough. That’s sport. The man who tries hardest doesn’t always win. (And the loser doesn’t always take home P3 billion.)

In the end, the hype for this once-in-a-century extravaganza was too much. No fight could have lived up to those expectations — except a spectacular Pacquiao knockout, which was as unlikely to happen as the Los Angeles Clippers losing at home by 27 points in Game 7. As it turns out, being a non-San Antonio Spurs fan, that was the only thing to smile about. At least one world champion got dethroned last Saturday night.

Good to go

Seven days ago, I narrated how my dad Bunny wanted to fly to Nevada to watch Manny vs. Money. As he inquired about the ticket prices, he was shocked: one cushioned seat inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena would cost him P230,000. In dollars, that’s 5K.

No way, my dad said. A boxing fan for life who adored Sugar Ray Leonard’s speed and who’d troop inside the Waterfront Hotel ballroom for most ALA Promotions encounters, my dad wanted to be a witness to the modern-day version of “Thrilla in Manila.” Then, Muhammad Ali defeated Joe Frazier in what was billed as one of the greatest clashes of all time.

Thrilla in Manila was contested in 1975. Forty years later, it’s another thriller in Vegas. (A bit of side trivia: The country’s first major commercial mall was named after the bout’s winner; that’s the “Ali Mall” beside the Araneta Coliseum, where the event was fought.)

Back to my dad, here’s some reminiscing: We traveled together to watch Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios last Nov. 2013. Prior to that fight, Pacquiao lost to Juan Manuel Marquez in a sleep-inducing knockout that floored the 100 million Filipinos watching on TV.

In Macau two years ago, my dad and I watched the bout 11 rows away. We stayed at The Venetian Macao and it was his first time to watch our Pambansang Kamao. The trip was memorable not only because of the Unanimous Decision victory by MP, him clobbering an overmatched (and soon we’d find out, drug-induced) Rios, it was meaningful because of the myriad of people that my dad met. He chatted with Genaro Rodriguez, the fight’s referee; he spent two hours seated beside commentator “Colonel” (Bob Sheridan), listening to his tales of announcing over 10,000 fights, from Mike Tyson to George Foreman to Roberto Duran.

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That was 2013. How about May 2, 2015? Would you believe, my dad’s going to the fight for free!

Here’s the story: One of his closest friends, Augustus “Gus” Ouano, bought two tickets immediately after the fight was announced last week. Ticket prices: $5,000 apiece.

Dr. Ouano, who owns a PhD in polymer science and who worked in IBM for four decades in an illustrious career as scientist and inventor (plus author of the book, “Motivation and Opportunity: An Immigrant’s Quest for Knowledge from Mindanao to the Leading Edge of Science and Technology”), is not a boxing fan. He did not purchase the tickets for himself. He bought one ticket for his nephew, Engr. Fortunato “Jun” Sanchez, Jr., one of the top officials of the Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board (MCDCB), and allocated the other ticket to Jun’s brother, Jay.

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Jun and Jay Sanchez were ready to pay for the tickets. But, because of some matters that would not allow him to travel during that time, Jay opted not to make the trip.

Back in Las Vegas where he resides, Dr. Gus Ouano reflected on the two ticket purchases that he made.

He made a decision and said: I’ll give — not sell — these tickets to two of my closest friends, Jun and Bunny. It would also be an opportunity for them to discuss Cebu-related matters (water supply and infrastructure) in Las Vegas.

When my dad received the message from Gus informing him of the astonishing gift, my dad said no. He couldn’t possibly accept the expensive offering.

But Gus reminded my dad of an act that he did a long time ago, back in 2008. Then, my dad received a business class ticket to the U.S. from PAL. He doesn’t remember the details (it may have been a prize he won) but he decided not to use the ticket. He decided to give — not sell — it to Dr. Ouano. Plus, Gus reminded him, it was years ago when my dad brought along his good friend to watch a Pacquiao fight at the Casino Español. Not a boxing aficionado, Gus was thrilled to see Manny win from the ballroom’s large screen.

And so now, this. The Gift. The Blessing. Manuel (my dad’s first name) watching Emmanuel in May against Mayweather. I can’t be more excited for a good man: my dad.

As the saying goes: The good that you do will always come back to you.

Finally

My dad Bunny, considering the possibility of flying to Los Angeles and driving four hours to Las Vegas to watch Money vs. Manny, was in constant touch with a few friends residing in Las Vegas yesterday. The ticket prices? You won’t believe it. Not 1K or 3K but $5,000 for the second-cheapest seats. That’s P230,000 for a single chair on a scuffle that will last a maximum of 36 minutes. My dad said No. He’d rather occupy his usual front row “good luck” chair inside Casino Español come the morning of May 3.

SALVEN LAGUMBAY. I interviewed one of the country’s foremost experts on boxing. He’s a best friend from UP Cebu College, a fellow writer, and now one of Asia’s top boxing judges. Here was Salven’s email to me a few nights ago:

“Bai, honestly, in the very long time that I’ve been following boxing, this is the first time for me to experience a fight announcement that is taking extremely long to make, with almost everybody around the world waiting for it with bated breath.

“Welcome to the Floyd Mayweather School of Business. First of all, in the history of contemporary boxing, or all of boxing for that matter, I would rate Mayweather as arguably the most astute, business-savvy boxer of all times. If he wasn’t boxing, he would have been the Dean of the Harvard Business School or a member of Barack Obama’s Economic Team.

“I have personally met him at his Mayweather Boxing Club gym in Las Vegas last October, and true enough, Mayweather is an entirely different athlete. You would think it would be easy for an Asian like me who travelled more than 7,000 miles to get a photo session with him? Think again. I got mine, but not after coursing my request thru the right channel.

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“This announcement has been super-delayed because of Floyd Mayweather. It’s the Art of the Deal working its magic. And no, it’s not because Mayweather doesn’t want to fight. Nor is he afraid of a Pacquiao. Let’s put it simply this way: Mayweather wants to be the one to steer the negotiation wherever he wants it to go. And so far he has been successful. Mayweather wins the first round even before the fight gets made.

“Also, a fight of this magnitude, with egos of those involved rivaling its size, this fight would not have been easy to make in the very first place. There’s the issue of who gets what (resolved, 60-40), the contract weight (147 lbs. or catchweight at 150), what gloves to use (Reyes or Grant), which outfit gets telecast right (HBO or Showtime), who gets to air the replay, who will make up the broadcast panel, who will announce (Michael Buffer or Jimmy Lennon), who goes up the ring first, who will be introduced first, how is the PPV sales going to be divided, who gets what corner color (red or blue), who will be the referee, who will be the judges, who will be the lead promoter, who will do the infomercials, which outfit gets right for all accreditations. For all we know, both camps are even at loggerheads as to whose name gets mentioned first in fight posters and advertising billboards.

“As for the promotion of the bout itself, yes, there is still time for that. Usually in major fights, they would allow a window of 4 to 5 months from fight announcement to fight date to allow ample time to promote the show. In this case, they don’t have that opportunity because of negotiation delay, but then again, this fight is so popular there is not much promoting needed to sell it. Lol, they can fight tomorrow and still pack the entire MGM and do more than a million PPV buys!

“As for fight preparations, both Mayweather and Pacquiao would need only 8 weeks or less to be in top condition. Both guys are professionals. They are in shape even with no fight schedule, and would need only a few weeks for the so-called sparring sessions and other ‘body alignments’ and tactical planning needed for the big show.”

Floyd’s marketing ploy

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Only 10 weeks remain. Why the delay? If he’s going to announce it anyway, why prolong the wait? Dozens upon dozens of articles in Philboxing.com all point to the same direction: May 2, 2015 will happen.

Cut the crap, Floyd. Sign the document that Manny Pacquiao has signed and announce the bout. Mayweather is taking us for a joyride aboard his Gulfstream III jet. He’s smiling that handsome and charismatic smile; he’s counting his estimated $280,000,000 net worth; he’s driving his Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorarno or Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 or Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport.

Sport is entertainment. We watch it to feel high or low; we applaud the first to cross the finish and we deride the beaten body lying on the canvas. But underneath our thrill and excitement — the root of all this entertainment — is one word: Money. And isn’t this guy’s nickname the same? This is all about money. Money the person. Money the denomination.

How to explain the delay? It’s called the “Apple strategy.” This was started by the late Steve Jobs and perfected by Tim Cook and the machination called Apple Inc. You know how the world’s biggest company (market capitalization: $740 billion) delays and keeps secret its latest iPad or iPhone to maximize the gossiping and to keep the millions of fanatics swimming in a news frenzy?

The iPhone-using Floyd is employing the same tactic used by the iPhone makers. The man from Las Vegas has learned a trick from the men from Cupertino.

It’s called suspense. Delay, delay, delay. Wait. Pause. Spread a tiny rumor here. Shake hands in Miami. Keep everyone guessing. Watch the NBA All-Star weekend beside Rihanna. Wait. Pause. Delay. Keep everyone salivating….. And when all throats are dry and all tongues are wagging, thirsty and hungry to receive the news… Boom! Like a left hook, you unveil the artwork.

The end result? When it’s finally announced, like when Apple revealed the months-long-rumored iPhone 6+ on the giant screen in California, everybody drools and all eyes are enlarged and mesmerized.

How do you explain this? Big fights usually get announced six or more months in advance. This one only has a lead time of two months? Crazy. If this were a small-time basketball or volleyball tournament, fine. But not the undisputed “Biggest Boxing Fight in History.”

Matthew Fellows, a columnist for Guardian Liberty Voice, wrote an interesting piece, “Mayweather-Pacquiao: Feeding Frenzy Calculated by Money Team,” last Feb. 16.

“Mayweather is extending this drama in order to get maximum exposure for Shots, the social media app he threw down one million dollars for where he plans on announcing the fight,” said Fellows. “He is all about maximizing his earnings even in announcing the fight and has been willing to drag fans along in torturous manner in order to fill his bank account.”

Nobody in sports is better in business than Mr. Mayweather, who tops the list of highest paid athletes in Forbes and Sports Illustrated. Hate him and despise him, but he’s amassed a mountain full of dollars — $105 million, to be exact, in 2014 alone.

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Sport is business. I don’t know how they arrived at the computations but the May 2 clash is supposed to generate a total revenue of $250 million (in pesos, that’s nearly P10 billion).

“Despite what people who clearly know little about the greed of boxing people and their ability to drive up numbers, the fight is in the pipeline and will be announced soon enough,” added Fellows. “The more the media and fans alike obsess, the broader the smile on not only Mayweather’s face but on the big wigs who stand to make tens of millions on a fight that should have happened five years ago.”

Marketing. That’s what this is all about. It’s a business strategy. And it works. It’s word of mouth multiplied by millions of mouths and it’s for free. Except that, on fight night, we pay while Money makes all the money.

Manny – Money

I recently met a top official who, after speaking to Manny Pacquiao earlier this week, confided to me the following: “Madayon ang fight!” Manny told him. Both camps have ironed out the details and are just awaiting for the Super Bowl to announce the bout. Two stumbling blocks previously stood in the way. First, the prize money. Manny agreed to a 60-40 split, in favor of Floyd, for the first $100 million; but he wanted a 75-25 split that would go to the winner (after $100 million). Floyd said no; Manny gave in. So it’s a 60-40 split all the way. Another challenge: the rematch clause. Manny wanted a one-fight contract (this way, if he wins, he’ll demand the terms of the rematch). But Floyd said no; Manny, again, relented. An interesting footnote, said my source: When asked how confident he was, Manny exuded his usual smiling bravado. Kaya ra na, said Manny. The reason why everyone has difficulty against Floyd is because they’re right-handers, said MP. When Floyd raises his shoulder as shield, guess what’s awaiting him? Manny’s left-handed smash.

Floyd v. Manny? Implausible, yes, but possible

This is perplexing. I don’t understand it. The question: Why Money won’t fight Manny. Maybe Money doesn’t need money? Is he afraid? Scared that his unblemished record will be tarnished? I say all of the above.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. versus Emmanuel Pacquiao. It’s the face-to-face bout that our planet’s seven billion people have been craving for. It’s what Mike Tyson wants. It’s what P-Noy wants. It’s what every Pinoy wants. Sadly, only one person can decide this and he says No.

Why? Reason No.1: He’s afraid to add a “1” to his “L” column. Mayweather is undefeated. He sports a 47-0 grade. Among those victories, he knocked-out 26. Why risk that perfect report card?

Floyd is trying to surpass the record of Rocky Marciano. The American, who lorded over the 1950s, won 49 and lost zero. Floyd is eyeing that figure. Don’t you think he wants to win thrice more, break Rocky’s streak and reach the magical “50?” That’s his goal. And a certain Gen. Santos City politician might thwart his plans.

Why risk it? He can fight Amir Khan. Win via unanimous decision. Seek a rematch. Win again. Reach 49 Ws. Fight one more unheralded bloke and summit that No. 50. Easy path, right?

Pacquiao has agreed to all of Mayweather’s requests. Blood testing. A smaller chunk of dollars to be harvested. Pacquiao is willing to bend, to bow, to accede to the spoiled-brat requests of Mr. Unpredictable just to face him inside that 23 ft. x 23 ft. platform.

Floyd’s response? Let’s do a 70-30 deal. What? Crazy. Well, yes, with that demand, he is. That’s preposterous. While a 50-50 deal is no longer possible — given Pacquiao’s two recent losses — that 70-30 proportion is out of proportion. Maybe 55-45? Or 60-40? Or how about a 55-35 split, with the last 10 percent going to the winner? If Floyd wins, he pockets 65%; if Manny wins, he nets 45. Fair? Actually, it’s unfair for Manny.. but sige nalang. To allow the “Fight of the Century” to happen, Manny’s willing to be Mr. Humility.

Is Floyd avoiding Manny because he’s a righty and he’s a lefty? One man thinks so. “The real problem is that Mayweather is so damn smart when it comes to boxing,” said Bob Arum, whom I had the chance to meet last year and who just turned 83 last Dec. 8. “He (Floyd) realizes that of all the fighters fought and all the fighters out there that Manny poses the biggest threat. Why? Because Manny is fast, Manny can punch and Manny is left handed. Floyd never wants to fight a left handed fighter because his style is designed to fight orthodox fighters.”

We know the strength of Floyd. It’s that “shield” called his left shoulder that he raises to cover his head that makes him impossible to hit. But, says Arum, that stance is good for everybody else — but not against Manny The Lefty. “If you look at his style and how he fights defensively,” said Arum, “everything he does is designed against a right-handed fighter.”

Arum is The Godfather of Boxing Promoters. When he speaks, people listen. He makes sense. With a potential windfall of at least $50 million (P2.25 billion), it’s shocking that anyone, even someone as wealthy as Floyd, will turn down that kind of cash. But, week after year after month, Floyd has spurned Manny’s hand to fight.

Instead, Mayweather is opting for weaker choices, favoring to meet the winner of today’s bout between Khan or Devon Alexander. Even Miguel Cotto, whom he defeated in 2012, is another possible opponent. Cotto would be a rehash; a has-been.

“To get Mayweather in the ring with Pacquiao is a monumental task,” said Arum. “Not because of splits, not because of money, because Manny stands the best chance of anybody that Floyd has faced to beat him.”

The key to Floyd’s yes? It’s to bait him. To tempt him by saying, “Why not be undefeated-for-life and finish 50-0 by beating Manny before you retire?”

This might tempt the narcissistic Floyd. Then, after he agrees, Manny beats him. Manny retires as Floyd heads home with his head bowed, his left shoulder swollen as big as his ego.

For Manny, no KO is OK

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 11.00.32 AM(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

In a sports-loaded weekend that included LeBron and the Cavs losing their fourth straight, Roger and Stan winning for Switzerland their first Davis Cup trophy, Lewis Hamilton subduing his teammate Nico Rosberg in Abu Dhabi for the F1 title — the highlight was Manny Pacquiao’s impressive victory over Chris Algieri.

Lopsided? No contest? Walay bout? Not in the same league? Check, check, check, check. All of the above.

But first, Mommy Dionisia. What a character. It’s obvious that the strong persona of Manny came from his mom. What an actress, a stage mom, a prayerful warrior, a newly-in-love woman this lady. Her falling to her knees. Her holding the rosary and blessing a reluctant Manny. She’s as much of a star as her son — in fact, she elicited the loudest cheers when the cameras focused on her. Amazing, remarkable Mommy D.

Chris Algieri? All the ladies in attendance swooned over his good looks. “Pildi si Manny!” the shouts were heard, “Sa pa-gwapohay.” They also commented on the man who stood beside Algieri before the bout’s start. Was that his handsome brother? Well, as it turned out and as everyone predicted, Algieri was just that: all good looks but a mediocre boxer.

MP and CA are not in the same category. One has 60-plus bouts fighting the greatest welterweights of all time; the other is a Big Apple native whose 20 wins came against unknowns.

It showed last Sunday. Alan Choachuy commented: “Algieri better join the Cebu Marathon!” I agree. We’ll ask Rio de la Cruz to give him a complimentary 21K slot. He ran in circles around the square ring. Dr. Ronnie Medalle gave our group (in Ray and Letty Patuasi’s house that included Dr. Grace and Bryan Borja, Atty. Jephte and Sandra Romea, Dr. Ron and Raycia Eullaran) a wise suggestion: Can’t they make the ring much smaller so there’s no escape and no running around?

This was Algieri’s only strategy. Had he engaged, faced the Pinoy squarely, stood his ground and not sidestepped — the fight would have been over in 19 minutes. He did what he had to do and he survived. That was his goal, to last the full 36-minutes distance.

Four times he fell to the floor (plus two more times when he slipped). He stood up, green eyes dazed, lanky legs wobbly, mind vacillating and arms wavering, the tussle in his shoes tired from all the flip-flop — but he fought on. We also have to give him applause. He’s tough. In that Round 9 when he tumbled (I’ve never seen that before!), many a fighter would have folded. They’d have quit. But not the 30-year-old. The following round, his legs sprung to action, his arms active. He was alive. He “won” by simply being able to stand up at fight’s end.

2014112420113100(Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

With Pacquiao, the “disappointment” was the lack of a defining knockout. He tried. And this was a much more aggressive Manny than we’ve seen in his last few contests. Freddie Roach wanted that KO and he broadcasted it. But what to do onstage when your partner won’t dance? “It takes two to tango,” says the line. In boxing, unless the victim wants to be subdued, there’s little you can do if he dances solo.

Here’s the question: Did the God-fearing and now-free-from-vices Manny P. relax in Round 12, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to floor Algieri anyway, and just coast through the final three minutes to pocket his $25 million?

“That was a Christian demonstration and a humane type of boxing,” reported Mayor Michael Rama minutes after the unanimous proclamation. “Manny is a good man. Boxing is not about butchering people.”

With that charismatic smile that Manny flashed and that friendly touch-of-gloves that he invoked upon Algieri prior to R12’s start, yes, I agree, Manny is not the Manny of the 2007 to 2010 era when he would destroy and maim the tomato-faced gladiator fronting him. He’s more compassionate and knows that boxing is savage and it’s man hurting man. He aims to win, gets the win — never mind if there’s no KO — and climbs the ring corner to raise his arms in thanksgiving to the Macau fans and to Almighty God.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 11.02.41 AM(Chris Farina/Top Rank)

Can SuperManny still score a knockout?

What we love about Manny Pacquiao is his knockout power. Who’ll forget his perfect stab on Ricky Hatton’s cheek in Round 2? Or the forward-lunging attacks on Erik Morales? Or, with blood smearing his baldhead, the Miguel Cotto stoppage in R12?

In Manny’s pro career spanning 63 fights, of the 56 times that he’s triumphed, he won via KO on 38 occasions (versus only 18 by decision). That’s a high 68 percent. In the three times that my very own eyes have watched him, my most memorable sight was when he floored Fahsan Por Thawatchai with a left hook that saw the Thai fly in Manila. In boxing formulations, the equation is simple: MP = KO.

But there’s a problem: That was then. The last time Pacquiao knocked cold an opponent was Cotto five Novembers ago. Correction! The last time Pacquiao was involved in a knockout was when HE was KO’d – by J. M. Marquez two years ago.

That’s the past. Today is 11-23-14, a brand new morning. Will the Gen. Santos City native return to his former self against the New Yorker today? We all wish. But his past fights explain a weakening and he’s-getting-old Congressman. Since that TKO over Cotto in Nov. of 2009, Manny fought eight more times – winning six and losing twice. What’s troubling is that none of those six wins came via KO; each was an “MD” or a “UD.”

Will today be different? One person is confident and it’s Manny’s confidant. “He showed signs of greatness in training. He was knocking sparring partners down,” said Freddie Roach, who knows his student more than any other. “It’s not enough to win nowadays. You have to win impressively, and knockouts are impressive. I love knockouts.”

Who doesn’t? The top reason why we follow boxing is not simply to endure 36 minutes of jabs, pokes, head butts and chest-to-chest sweaty hugs. We all await that knockout. That single moment perfected in time when the fist collides with the face.

Boxing would be boring without that KO. It’s more than baseball’s homerun; more than a Dwight Howard slam dunk; it’s like a football goal, waiting patiently for 90 minutes before that kick or header greets the net – but boxing’s knockout is even more thrilling.

Does Pacquiao still possess that SuperManny force? Can his present fists replicate his past feats?

First, let’s remember his age. Though Manny’s not Bernard Hopkins-old (who’ll turn 50 this Jan.), our fellow Pinoy is no longer youthful. This Dec. 17, he’ll turn 36. Considering that he started this warfare state in his teens, that’s over two decades of battered bodies and bloodied fists.

Two: he’s moved up in weight. Said Roach: “He has only knocked out two welterweights (Cotto and a weight-drained De La Hoya) since we’ve moved up in weight for the big fights. All those other big knockouts were in smaller divisions.”

His point? The bigger the man you’re facing, the more daunting the task of putting him to sleep. A recent example was Nonito Donaire, dominant in his previous category but outclassed by the larger Nicholas Walters. If Manny wins today, Team Pacquiao is signaling a return to lighter weight divisions.

“The real question is, how do I feel and how do I perform when I return to those lower weights?” said Pacquiao. “I could be faster than when I fought at welterweight and (junior middleweight), and if my power remains the same, I may be able to score more knockouts at lower weights. I weighed 138 when I knocked out Ricky Hatton, 142 when I stopped Oscar De La Hoya and 144 when I scored a TKO of Miguel Cotto. Many people consider those fights some of my best, so why not go back down if that is where the bigger and better fights are going to be fought?”

That’s next year. Today, the strategy is to go for the jugular. “This is what I’m going to do to this kid (Algieri),” Manny told Roach. “I’m going to knock him out early.”

Roach agrees. “Manny is an eight-division champion with speed and power. When he hurts a guy, he knows what to do. Chris Algieri is not fighting Ruslan (Provodnikov). This is not a ‘Rocky’ movie. It might be one round.”

Let’s see the boast.