The defending World Boxing Organization welterweight champion considers himself a pacifist and the more he speaks, the more I am convinced that Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao is the calmest person in a room filled with promoters and trainers.
Settled just inches from Pacquiao, in the corner of a boardroom at the Four Seasons in Hong Kong’s Central district, it is sometimes difficult to hear the soft-spoken champ who speaks about his career and upcoming fight with a serenity usually reserved for Sunday mass.
In fact, religion is the common thread connecting the fighter’s answers about boxing, family, and even his career outside the ring. Who inspires him? His family and his faith to God. What motivates him? The support of his family, the fans, and the glory of the lord. Pre-fight ritual? Praying to the lord. Any words for his Filipino supporters in Hong Kong? Do your best and may God bless you and guide you.
Pacquiao’s measured responses to my questions reflect the boxer’s elder status. The 35-year-old shows no sign of the bravado that accompanies some of his younger and brasher opponents. To him, the trunks and the gloves are his work uniform, the ring his office.
“When I fight I’m not angry with my opponent. I just do my job in the ring and entertain people. It’s nothing personal,” Pacquiao said.
Even the most touchy of topics, the ongoing mission to get in the ring with Floyd Mayweather, fails to produce a spark in the eyes of the defending champ. “I’ve been crossing my fingers to make that fight happen,” the champ stated.
“That fight” may be the culmination of a career that resulted in Pacquiao becoming boxing’s only eight-division world champion. At 5’6” and fighting in a division that maxes out at 147 pounds, it is difficult to believe that the unimposing pugilist started his pro career back in 1995 as a 4’11”, 98-pound, 16-year-old.
Much has been made of his size going into this Sunday’s fight against undefeated WBO junior welterweight champion Chris Algieri, especially since his opponent commands a 5 inch reach advantage and stands at 5’10”, considered a towering figure in the welterweight class.
But Pacquiao takes it all in stride with a measured outlook. “The height advantage is his advantage, but if he doesn’t know how to use that advantage it is useless,” the champ stated matter of factly.
While the boxer promises a historic fight that will entertain the fans, set to include a host a superstars headlined by Sylvester Stallone to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pacquiao plans to write history outside the ring in his continuing political career as a congressman in the Philippines. In the political ring, Pacquiao said he wants to bring honour to his country and drive tourism.
“People should go to the Philipines because it is really different than before. There is more development, more buildings. It’s the fastest growing country,” the fighter said as he also acknowledged a need for improved law and order as well as cleanliness in his home country.
Given Pacquiao’s ability to overcome impossible odds, most recently becoming a pro-basketball player in the Philippines, it is a near certainty that our neighbors across the sea will experience positive changes soon.
On November 23rd, Pacquiao will return to The Venetian Macau for Clash in Cotai II to square off against New York’s Algieri. Don’t miss out on the fight of the year! Click here for Clash in Cotai II ticket information and sales.