He wore red, high-cut boots by Nike with the words “PACQUIAO” and “MANNY” etched at the back. His black shorts were printed with yellow flames. A gray sleeveless Nike shirt covered his chest while a green pair of gloves wrapped his hands.
Last Wednesday at 2:30 p.m., accompanied by the country’s top boxing writer—Salven Lagumbay of philboxing.com and the Philippine Daily Inquirer—I stepped inside RP’s most famous gym today, owned by Rex “Wakee” Salud.
Manny Pacquiao had just finished 10 rounds of sparring. Tired? Did he look fatigued? No. How about recharged? Or pumped-up? For one-and-a-half hours, I observed Manny. After sparring, Manny stepped down the ring then proceeded to pummel the double-end bag. He stared at the round leather that hung from the ceiling, encircled it, threw quick jabs, moved his head left, ducked, stepped back, forward.
Congratulations to Frederic Chiongbian for scoring his first-ever hole-in-one last Tuesday at the 15th hole of the Cebu Country Club. After besting his flight-mates Toby Florendo, Gabriel Yap, Jr., Eric Deen and Jovi Neri with a birdie on Hole No. 14, Frederic, who’s played golf since he was 12 years old, next nailed the rare feat.
It’s the US Open! What’s my biggest tennis wish? That two 6-foot-1 Nike endorsers will meet in the finals. You see, every time Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal meet, it’s like a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. It’s like the Lakers vs. Celtics, the Yankees vs. Red Sox, La Salle against Ateneo. It’s a blockbuster movie. Only this time, it’s not reel but for real.
My opinion? It won’t happen. Rafa was injured and out of the ATP Tour for two months. That’s like asking Charice Pempengco to tape her mouth for 12 months. She’ll rust. And, yes, Rafa is rusty. Mr. Federer? Ah, he’s far from dusty. Like a gleaming Rolex watch that he wears on his left wrist, the Swiss is glossy and sparkling.
The Phil Jackson of boxing, the three-time Trainer of the Year who’s trained Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins, Gerry Peñalosa and actor Mickey Rourke, is “pissed.” They treat me, he says, like “sh*#.”
His nickname, interestingly, is “Choir Boy” and, since he’s done a duet with the Greatest Filipino Sportsman Of All Time, they’ve produced perfect music together. Diaz. Marquez. Barrera. De La Hoya. Morales. Hatton. Name it, the Pacquaio-Roach one-two duet today is like the Phil Jackson-Michael Jordan duo of the 1990s.