Davis Cup volleys back to Plantation Bay

The biggest annual team sporting event returns to Cebu. Backed by a 112-year-old history, the Davis Cup is one of sport’s oldest and most revered of competitions. It pits nation vs. nation in the sport of that matches forehands versus backhands.

This February 1 to 3, 2013, the shores of Plantation Bay Resort and Spa will once again host the Davis Cup. Cebu is lucky. Last year, we were fortunate to organize two DC ties: Phils. vs. Japan (March 2011) and Phils. vs Chinese-Taipei (September 2011). One-and-a-half months from now, Team Philippines will face Syria.

It wasn’t supposed to be here. Syria was scheduled to host our Pinoy netters. But we know the bloody situation the country is in now — thus, the move to our Southeast Asian nation.

Tickets will be sold — for free! This is the big news. Plus, here’s another one: While we lost both 2011 contests, the one this February favors us. On paper, led by world-ranked (doubles) No. 35 Treat Conrad Huey, we are expected to win. That’s why, at yesterday’s MOA signing and press conference at Plantation Bay attended by Mayor Paz Radaza, Philta’s VP Randy Villanueva, Lapu-Lapu City Councilor Harry Radaza, Plantation Bay GM Efren Belarmino and Cebuana Lhuillier’s big boss Anton Arrieta, the sign we flashed wasn’t a thumbs-up or victory symbol — it was the “No. 3” sign. It was to signify, on Cebu’s 3rd attempt, that we hope to emerge victorious. (Harry predicts a “third time lucky” event; we can also call it “third time’s a charm.”)

Our players? Three are almost-sure to be selected: Treat Huey, Ruben Gonzalez and Johnny Arcilla. The fourth spot will be decided among the trio of Niño Alcantara, Jeson Patrombon and Onyok Anasta.

Like in previous occasions, the format of the Davis Cup weekend is the same: Friday (Feb. 1) will offer two singles matches; Saturday is for the lone doubles match; and Sunday are the two reverse singles matches.

Lapu-Lapu City — because of the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 and the Davis Cup — has risen to become a sporting powerhouse city. Led by their sports czar, Harry Radaza, the city has asked another sports enthusiast (and ultra-marathoner), Hembler Mendoza, to lead their efforts in sports and tourism. The year 2013 promises to be loaded with events for the city named after our country’s first hero.



NONITO DONAIRE: After the other Sunday’s crushing Pacman downfall in Las Vegas, it was a splendid “revenge” by the Talibon, Bohol-born winner named “The Filipino Flash.”

What the Mexican did to Pacquiao, he did to a Mexican. We often talk about the “passing of the torch;” the act of a younger, newer champion taking over from the aged, near-retiring legend — and that’s what we witnessed in a span of one week.

Twice, I’ve sat down and talked with Nonito. The latest one was during the yearly Cebu Sports Awards when Nonito and Manny Pacquiao were special guests at the Casino Español. It was the 27th SAC-SMB Awards Night in 2009.

Our first meeting was back in November 2007 when Salven Lagumbay of Cebu Daily News introduced us. That evening, we invited Nonito, together with a group of friends and media personalities, to Mooon Cafe. Nonito Jr. and Nonito Sr. were together. And, after a few hours chatting with them, you leave the room with the same feeling: it’s hard to find a nicer, more gentleman-like duo than the two Nonitos.

With Nonito Jr., my initial reaction was this: As nice and amiable and respectful as he is, is he a boxer, one who bloodies and “puts to sleep” opponents for a living? As we saw against Jorge Arce and three others this 2012 (Wilfredo Vasquez, Jr.; Jeffrey Mathebula; and Toshiaki Nishioka), the 30-year-old “Flash” is a certified world champion. In boxing, he’s proven that it is possible to both be friendly (off the ring) and destructive.

My brother Charlie with Nonito

Sports Editor Mike Limpag with Nonito

Categorized as Boxing

Wakee to Manny: Don’t fight Marquez next

Of the many advisers of Emmanuel Pacquiao — from pastors to Chavit S. to his fellow congressmen to Mr. Arum — one of his closest buddies is Cebu-based businessman Rex “Wakee” Salud.

Wakee and Manny have been inseparable since 2005, right after MP’s loss to Erik Morales, when the boxing promoter invited the boxing fighter to Lapu-Lapu City.

After a wild ride of wild nights at the Casino gambling, of cock-fighting, of drinking, of many more exploits too salacious to print here — their friendship lasted seven years, 15 consecutive victories and, sadly, in the last two fights, back-to-back losses. In all these years and Las Vegas encounters, who friend watched from his corner every single time? RWS.

Wakee and I spoke yesterday. He had just arrived from the States, landing two days ago in Manila, a day ahead of Pacman. Where exactly did you sit and what did your eyes see in that 6th round ending? I queried.

“I sat behind Jinkee,” said Wakee. “I sat sa kilid (at the side). When it was nearing the final bell of that 6th round, I didn’t have a clear sight. The referee was covering Manny. I knew that Manny was going for the kill. He wanted to finish Marquez in that round. Then, all of a sudden, si Manny man ang natumba (it was Manny who fell).”

Everybody was shocked. If we, TV-goers, were stunned – can you imagine the hysteria and breakdown inside the MGM Grand, especially of Wakee, who sat just meters away from the fallen hero? The quick reaction, of course, was to storm the stage. “We wanted to go inside the ring but were not allowed,” he said.

“Sugat gyud (It was straight and head-on),” Wakee said. “It was a blind punch” that caught the overconfident and impatient Manny.

After the fight, as the hysteria had settled, Wakee wanted to accompany Manny to the hospital. But when he stepped inside the dressing room, they had left for the hospital tests. “So far, the check up was good,” he said. “But it’s best to have a more extensive check here. Just to be sure.”

SHOCK. Jinkee cried. The whole family cried. Everybody in Pacquiao’s Las Vegas entourage was in disbelief. “But when I went inside the suite room of Manny around 1 or 2 A.M., OK na sila. Nag-comedya na gani. (They were OK and were telling jokes.)”

This is boxing, said Wakee. Anything can happen. And Manny has accepted defeat.

I asked Wakee if he felt a premonition, a bad feeling, a sense that something harrowing was about to happen on December 8, 2012. “Wala gyud (None at all),” he said. The MP camp was very confident. (Overly-confident?) “We were relaxed and sige-comedya. In the locker room, I was with Steven Seagal. Later, I got the chance to meet the presidential candidate Mitt Romney.”

But, commenting on Pacman’s preparations, Wakee said that while the training in the States went “very well,” he said the preparations in the Philippines was not. Too many distractions again, he said.

ADVICE. Suggestions for his best friend? First, Wakee believes that Manny should fight again. He shouldn’t retire. Not yet. But – and here’s an important request — he’s pleading that, next year, when Manny fights, that he focus entirely on boxing.

First, he should have a thorough rest. And, when training arrives, to focus only on boxing. “His mind is into politics, is into religion, he’s accommodating too many friends — he has to focus,” said Wakee.

And, finally, the most important recommendation from RWS – one that, given the Typhoon Pablo-like disaster that befell Pacman, makes a lot of good sense:

“For me, it’s not wise to fight Marquez right away,” said Wakee. “Ayaw ibigla. Don’t rush. Fight another opponent first. Have one tune-up fight. Then, observe. This will give Manny confidence before facing Marquez in No. 5.”

Will Sunday be Pacman’s last fight?

Manny Pacquiao will turn 34 years old in 11 days. In boxing age, he’s a “Senior Citizen.” This Dec. 8 will be Manny’s 61st boxing fight. That’s what the official record states. But when you count all those side-street, pustahan-type small bouts, he must have boxed 1,001 times.

Training? Twice, I watched him inside Wakee Salud’s gym in Labangon. He skip-roped. He rocked his back up and down doing sit-ups. In sparring, he deliberately raised his arms so that the sparring partner can pound — and strengthen — his abdomen.

If Pacquiao were a car, he’d be a Porsche 911. Speedy. Muscular. Low-flying. Packing an engine whose oomph can top 450 horsepower. But, as furious and fast as this Porsche is, it’s not the 2012 “911 Turbo” series; it’s the vintage 2001 model. It’s not brand-new. And, like Pacman, though it’s still power-packed and fast, it’s getting old.

Manny is getting old. We saw it against Mosley, Marquez, Bradley. He’s sluggish — nowhere near the peak days when he bloodied De La Hoya, Hatton, Cotto.

“Pacquaio should retire after this fight,” said Monico Puentevella, the former Phil. Olympic Committee Chairman (he lost last week in the POC elections to Tom Carrasco).

“I believe Manny will win this Sunday. But, after that, what’s next? He should only fight one more time if it’s Mayweather. But if not, then he should retire.”

Monico, who is running for mayor of “The City of Smiles,” is one of Manny’s closest friends. Almost every fight of Pacquiao the past six years, Puentevella has flown to the U.S. to watch. The only time he missed the live watch? “Against Bradley last June, I wasn’t there,” he said. And we know what happened, right? Manny lost.

This Sunday? “I can’t make it again,” said Monico. Oh no, I told him yesterday. What if Manny loses again — you’ll be the jinx? He laughed. “I’m calling Manny later today (that’s yesterday),” he said. Pasyensya na (So sorry), he’ll tell him. He had to stay home in Bacolod and be here during Typhoon Pablo.

Monico made a prediction. With Manny nearing 34 and Marquez turning 40 next year, there won’t be any knock-outs this weekend. No KOs. I agree. Plus, weren’t Pacquiao’s last five fights all 12-rounders?

“If Manny wins against Marquez, the problem is the same one we’ve had: what if Mayweather won’t fight him? Who’s next?” The answer: Nobody.

“That’s why, after this fight, I’ll sit down with Manny and advise him to quit. Quit to preserve your dignity, record and supremacy. Quit while you’re ahead. There’s no more use fighting.”

Monico recalled the harrowing experience of Z Gorres. “One punch is all it takes to put a boxer in that wheelchair for life,” Monico said. “Damo ka naman kwarta (You have plenty of money). You’ll only hurt yourself.”

This means that — granted the Sarangani congressman will listen to the former Bacolod representative — that this Sunday may be the final “Las Vegas” curtain moment of MP.

I know we don’t think about it. Manny’s fought world title bouts twice or thrice every single year since he burst into the boxing world in 2003 (against Barrera) — that we don’t contemplate his retirement. But it’s coming. Soon.

“The only complication is if Manny loses to Marquez,” said Monico. “And you know who would be so happy? Bob Arum. He wants that Game 5. We know Arum doesn’t have anybody else to fight Manny, so he’d prefer a loss now and a Game 5 next year. But everybody’s tired of Pacquiao-Marquez.”

Monico knows and loves boxing. “My goal is to build the best boxing gym in the Philippines,” he told me. “If elected mayor, I’ll rebuild the old basketball gym at the Bay Center, fronting the Plaza, and will convert it into a world-class facility. We’ll hire a Cuban coach and to bring boxers from nearby Cadiz, Bago, Manapla and Himamaylan. Then we’ll revive what Bidoy Aldeguer and I used to do… bring boxers to Cebu and bring yours over to Bacolod.”

Monico’s analysis on Manny? It makes sense. Win on Sunday then convince Mayweather. If he won’t dance, forget it. You’ve got the billions to buy a brand-new Porsche 911.