1. If you add up all his recent earnings so far, plus put into the equation what he will earn in the next two years or so, Manny Pacquiao is well on his way to becoming “the only billionaire Filipino athlete in history,” as pointed out by renowned boxing writer Salven Lagumbay.
2. Manny’s first boxing hero was Ala Villamor. As a small boy, he would steal the transistor radio from his mom and would listen to the Ala Villamor drama played on the radio. That prompted him to box.
Edito “ALA” Villamor, Boom-Boom Bautista and Jingo Quijano
3. A study made by some amateur officials in Gen. Santos City years back reveals that Manny is the only known Filipino fighter whose heartbeat does not change even after several minutes of strenuous and rigorous activity. The only other fighter known to have this trait was the legendary Salvador Sanchez, touted by many as the greatest Mexican fighter of all time.
I will never forget the month of September last year.
Three times, together with my fellow mediamen, we wore blue-and-yellow jerseys to play basketball against a dozen players called “Team Pacquiao.” Against the boxing world champion himself—Pacman—we dribbled and scored baskets twice at the City Sports Club and once at the Cebu Coliseum. On one occasion when I guarded him, I attempted to steal the basketball from Manny as we scrambled for the loose ball and fell to the floor with arms locked. It was scary—but fun for Manny.
I had to call. I had to seek the opinion of this highly-esteemed Filipino boxing judge. And so yesterday, at 5 p.m., I called.
Jonathan Davis, 58, first sat on that high chair beside the ring with pen and paper on hand in 2002. Since then, he has presided as judge over 400 fights. “When Flash Elorde fought and I was in high school,” said Davis in our 20-minute telephone conversation, “I’ve been doing my own boxing scoring.”
Today is Manny Pacquiao’s 13th boxing fight in America.
I looked up “13” in Wikipedia and it brimmed with dozens of “Unlucky 13” versus “Lucky 13” examples. For instance: Some airlines skip a row 13, many buildings don’t have a 13th floor, and the Code of Hammurabi (ca. 1760 B.C.) does not contain a 13th law.
Lucky 13? Sure… Wilt Chamberlain, Alex Rodriguez and Dan Marino wore jerseys number “13.” And, in Italy, guess what their lucky number is? Thirteen.
Nine days from today, all 91 million Filipinos scattered around the globe will sit around TV screens, clap, stomp their feet, pray, and stare at the muscled sight of a hero who’ll aim to finish his “Unfinished Business.”
From Davao to Baguio to Ormoc—and in every municipality housed by our 7,107 islands—cars will park, businesses will open late, churches saying mass at 11 a.m. will experience a 75 percent drop in attendance—all our countrymen rooting for RP’s most revered sportsman in history.
Is Manny Pacquiao prepared? He is. From all my readings on next Sunday’s fight, Pacman is more disciplined; he’s hardened, sharpened, ready to hammer away with his fists.
So I ask: Which prepared Manny better, training in Cebu or in Los Angeles? We’ll find out next week but, this early, my gut feel says Pacquiao is better off staying in Hollywood. Why?
Didn’t your hands feel clammy? Didn’t your heart pump thrice as fast? Didn’t your legs shake and feet stomp the floor and fist clench your knuckles?
I did. You did. My father-in-law Jack Mendez did. So did my companions that morning, Dr. Ronnie Medalle and my Sun.Star sports editor Mike Limpag. Every single Filipino who sat to watch from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. two days ago prayed for Manny Pacquaio. My mother-in-law Malu Mendez, too nervous to sit, instead prepared kinilaw at the kitchen and did what she does best when in times of need: pray.
She prayed for Manny. Many prayed for Manny.
Manny prayed for Manny. With a rosary hung around his neck, he made the sign-of-the-cross each time the bell sounded to start the round. Do you recall him, midway through, looking up to the ceiling? He wasn’t staring at the scoreboard—this wasn’t the NBA—but looked up… to pray.
The day before the fight, when we watched the news that Manny was four lbs. overweight when he awoke that morning and had to run on a treadmill and squeeze out the extra poundage just to make weight—didn’t we all pray? Didn’t we all uplift Manny’s ordeal? For him to have strength 30 hours later to last the full 12 rounds?
Manny also heard mass at his Mandalay Bay suite—as he always does—and invited all to attend. Plus, didn’t Manny kneel down after the fight? To thank God? He did. He always does.
When he climbs the ring at past 11 a.m. (RP time) today, this we are proud to declare: Manny Pacquiao trained in Cebu City.
He jogged on the steep hills of Alta Vista. Sprinted near call centers named People Support and eTelecare along the I.T. Park. He setup camp at a Labangon hideaway called the Rex “Wakee” Salud (RWS) Gym. Inside that blue-and-white building, Manny skipped rope, attacked the double-end bag, and logged 112 sparring rounds. At the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino, he slept in a suite room and feasted on Cafe Uno’s breakfast and dinner buffets.
Basketball? Sure. As part of his Sunday morning routine, Manny dribbled together with Team Pacquiao—his loyal gang of trainers and rah-rah boys—against us, the Cebuano sportswriters. Twice, we traded jump-shots at the City Sports Club; once, we collided and tumbled on the parquet floor of the Cebu Coliseum.
Good question. From August 14 until September 21—that’s 39 days—why did the King of Boxing train in the Queen City of the South? Wasn’t he supposed to be at the Wild Card Gym? In Los Angeles? As devised by Freddie Roach?
Yes, yes, yes—but here’s another Yes: Cebu is perfect for Pacman.