Sen. Manny Pacquiao: ‘Public service is my calling but boxing is my passion’

BEVERLY HILLS —  The essence of boxing is what we seek to capture and record.  It might be the decisive moment which makes the bout last in your memory, or perhaps the mood of place they have not seen except a photograph of the story we convey.

We already know that people look up to the senator-boxer, hearts filled faith, hope, the pain and their needs, he says no to no one.  But that started a couple of years back in his boxing odyssey.

Just recently, at the Beverly Hills Hotel kick-off press conference for his upcoming November fight, we realized the essence of Sen. Manny Pacquiao as we see his new world — new accomplishments, expectations, possibilities, goals and dreams that sustain him.

An international press conference has the same ingredients, whether it is at Beverly Hills, MGM Hotels or the Wild Card Gym.

The usual heaps of sports photographers, broadcast and TV journalists, and wires from all over the world gather, creating a jubilation that epitomizes a mix of the old and new of sports media.

He is the centerpiece.  Just look at him; the camera adores him.  Caught in one picture-perfect situation after another, with a splash of color, knock-out images, and behind the scenes.

He doesn’t feel exhausted or invaded as cameras keep snapping.   Lensmen are more flamboyant than us print people. We are more calm and creative in our ways.  But that doesn’t change the fact that we are not on the top of the list for one-on-one interviews in the boxing field.  It’s a salty pain of injustice!

He arrives without much fanfare when his security blinked.  I threw a question which is a no-no. He answered and smiled even said, “O sige may interview pa ako (Go, I still have an interview)!”

The small sensation of power that a press pass can give ebbs quickly once you’re cocooned  in a bullpen even that as huge as the Coral Ballroom of the Beverly Hills Hotel.  The usual announcement barked: no posing for photos, no asking for photographs, or face immediate banishment from the huge media convergence.

Bob Arum, still astonishingly handsome and oozing with chutzpah, introduced the boxers and the entourage, then he declared open the silent riot of question and answer.

“Senator,  what have you done outside the ring you consider the most worthy?”

“Ang pagtulong ko sa kapwa at paglilingkod sa Diyos (Helping people and my service to the Lord),” said Pacquiao.

His trainer Freddie Roach is at peace with the sport that he loves, one that had robbed him of his ability to speak, function normally without some pills a day.

“I don’t let it bother me,”  Roach said.  “Once Manny is out there on the ring, he is on his own.  Nothing much I can do.”

Pacquiao’s opponent, Jessie Vargas, had this to say:   “When I was younger and watched what Manny did to my two boxing idols – Erick Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera – two great Mexican warriors,  I told myself someday I will get into the ring against Manny and avenge what he did to them.  Now, I will fight for them as well as myself.

“To me, this fight isn’t about a friendly ring rivalry between our countries. This fight is about payback.”

Vargas’s chief trainer Dewey Cooper said he considers this fight “the passing of the torch, and it will be their moment, their time for a ‘younger’ world champion to shine and learn the admiration of the fighting world.”

Roach said he is looking forward to returning to Manila and training Pacman for a very big challenge.  He said he respects Vargas, having seen what he did to Saddam Ali to win his second world title. He is prepared to shoot the works for Pacquiao against Vargas to become world champions again like a mandate.

In the pugilistic arena, good stories are good stories, regardless of who tells them.  Sportswriters cobble these groups of juicy pieces of fistic delights — vivid, immediate, firsthand — reported with the gluttony of an explorer, the doubts, the fears and the trials.  These seasonal sportswriters use the tip of the wedge in their stories.

I’ve always done my athletic meanderings from a different view, soft and caring like a warm glove.

While everything about the feel of the press conference brimmed and sparkled, it was old news, but it was all there.


E-mail Mylah at [email protected]

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