Pacquiao vs Bradley: Tim Bradley of the USA (R) and Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines pose with Boxing promoter Bob Arum during a press conference at the David Copperfield Theater in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, April 6, 2016. Pacquiao and Bradley will face off in their bout on April 9 at the MGM Grand Arena in the Welterweight Championship.
Pacquiao vs Bradley
Manny Pacquiao indicates his fight Saturday night with Tim Bradley will be his last hurrah. There are 65,000 Filipinos or Filipino-Americans living and working here in America’s Gomorrah in the Desert. It was obvious from the foot-stomping, roaring, chanting reception he received in the lobby of the MGM Grand when he arrived here this week, they are in no hurry to see him go.
He has been a fighter for 22 years. He has been fighting here for most of the last 15. For many of them, Pacquiao is an iconic social bridge between cultures. He is their letter from home, their reminder of Sundays flavored with lechón (whole roasted pig), and longganisa (Philippine sausage) and family dinners back home.
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They were elated by each of the eight titles he won in different weight classes —something nobody before him and probably nobody this side of the distant future will duplicate. They were crushed by his desultory performance against Floyd Mayweather. No Filipino fighter since the late Flash Elorde ever formed such a bond with them.
And on Tuesday, as they rocked the hotel lobby with chants of ”Manny! Manny! Manny!” it was as though those cheers were saying, ”Say it ain’t so, Manny.”
This week, he came perilously close to saying just that.
It started with a disclaimer:
“My family has wanted me to quit since before the Marquez fight. Mostly, it’s been my mother. I want to spend more time with them. I have the race for the Filipino Senate and I want to do even more for my people.”
So you are saying, then, that this is it … that you won’t miss it.
“Well, how can I know that? I mean, I was away for a year because of my shoulder operation, but I don’t know exactly what it will be like to quit for good. You know, I have been in this thing a long time. Boxing is my passion.
“It (retirement) hasn’t happened yet so I can’t answer that. I don’t know.”
And then he laughed and added, ”I have no idea how it will feel.”
He was out on the streets of General San City in the Philippines when he was 12. He baked donuts and sold them. He scuffled for money, and when he was 16 he told his mother he was going up to Manila, which, compared to General San, was a whole other world. He was going there to be a fighter and to help is family survive.
In Manila, he found a gym in which to train, and even there he scuffled. He taught himself to sew and he made a few bucks repairing the worn bathrobes of fighters who had stayed too long at the fair.
“They made a fight for me in a place called Sabalyan,” he recalled. “It is an island in the south. I had to go by boat for three hours and paid my own way. I won a four round decision. They paid me $30 dollars after expenses, I had $20 left to give my mother.”
The opponent was named Edmund Enting Ignacio. Several Filipino writers who cover Pacquiao say they have not covered a fight in Mindoro but they do not believe there is an arena there. They think the fight must have been outdoors.
When he first came to Vegas, I was intrigued by the immediate hold he had on Filipino emotions here. Just before he fought Miguel Cotto, I tried to find out why they felt so strongly about him.
A bank executive named Maria Altarmirino told me that ”when Manny fights, an entire country on the other side of the world goes to church and prays for him. I am not a fan of boxing. I am a fan of Manny Pacquiao.
“We have a civil war down south, but when Manny fights,” Nonito Donaire, another fighter from his hometown, told me, ”nobody picks up a gun. Instead, they find a way to watch the fight on television.”
Winchell Campos, who back then was writing Pacquiao’s biography, resides in both California and the Philippines He told me:
“I have noticed a strange and positive thing and it comes from Manny. Filipinos, say third and fourth generations of them, never made much of their background. I can tell you that as his impact on them, Filipino-American student groups at USC and UCLA doubled in membership They all know the story of Manny and the horrendous mudslide in a nearby village in Baggio after a typhon. They know that Manny was training nearby and, according to Freddie Roach, the whole camp worked in the rescue effort. They also know Manny bought the wood that made the coffins for those who didn’t get out.” for Pacquiao vs Bradley
So if he does quit, it won’t be a divorce for the Filipinos of the Vegas Valley. Think of it more as their farewell to a warrior who has earned their respect and his retirement. That’s if he quits after this one.
And that still remains a very large ”if.”
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