Manny Pac­quiao takes a break from pol­i­tics for boxing

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Up un­til last week, Manny Pac­quiao was con­cen­trat­ing on try­ing to get the death penalty re­stored in the Philip­pines.

Now he’s fo­cus­ing on some­thing not nearly as con­tro­ver­sial - his re­turn to the ring for a Nov 5 fight with Jesse Var­gas.

“Work­ing in the Sen­ate is not easy while you’re train­ing,” said Pac­quiao, a fresh­man se­na­tor in the Philip­pines. “You man­age your time and that’s what I did in train­ing for this fight.”

Pac­quiao won’t have to jug­gle two jobs for at least a few weeks, with the Sen­ate now out of ses­sion. He ar­rived in Los Angeles over the week­end, ea­ger to fin­ish fi­nal prepa­ra­tions for yet another fight in a pro ca­reer that has stretched 21 years. What re­mains to be seen is how ea­ger boxing fans are to see him against a rel­a­tively un­known boxer who isn’t given much of a chance to beat him.

“You can say what you want about Pac­quiao and Var­gas,” pro­moter Bob Arum said. “I think it’s com­pet­i­tive, other peo­ple don’t. That’s their opin­ion.”

Pac­quiao joined Arum on a con­fer­ence call Mon­day to dis­cuss the lat­est rein­ven­tion of the fighter-turned-politi­cian. The talk veered from boxing into pol­i­tics, and to Pac­quiao’s two big­gest goals as a fresh­man se­na­tor - form­ing a boxing com­mis­sion in the Philip­pines and restor­ing the death penalty elim­i­nated in the coun­try 30 years ago.

“I’m en­joy­ing work­ing hard in the Sen­ate while per­form­ing my job as a boxer,” Pac­quiao said. “I’m en­joy­ing both.”

Pac­quiao, who was dropped by Nike ear­lier this year af­ter say­ing peo­ple in gay re­la­tion­ships were “worse than an­i­mals,” is an ally of new Philip­pines Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, who has sug­gested re­cently that his coun­try might be bet­ter off with­out its close al­liance with the United States.

Pac­quiao seemed un­con­cerned that the com­ments might cost him some fans in the coun­try where he has made millions of dol­lars.

“Ev­ery­thing is fine,” Pac­quiao said. “He has clar­i­fied ev­ery­thing about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the US and the Philip­pines.”

Trainer Fred­die Roach said ev­ery­thing is also fine with Pac­quiao’s boxing ca­reer, which was on hold af­ter a tem­po­rary re­tire­ment last year. He was im­pres­sive in April in dom­i­nat­ing Ti­mothy Bradley in their third fight, and Roach said he has spent weeks train­ing in the Philip­pines for Var­gas.

Most of those train­ing ses­sions were at night, as Pac­quiao ful­filled a cam­paign pledge to be in the Sen­ate each day it was in ses­sion.

“This is the best I’ve seen Manny in a long time,” Roach said. “He’s been a lot more ag­gres­sive. The old Manny Pac­quiao is com­ing out.”

Pac­quiao’s star has faded some since he lost in boxing’s rich­est fight ever to Floyd May­weather Jr., and putting him in the ring with Var­gas is a tough sell. Arum has added three title fights to the un­der­card and is go­ing on his own in try­ing to sell it on pay-per-view.

As part of that sales job, Arum is hold­ing out the pos­si­bil­ity that Pac­quiao will fight un­beaten Ter­rence Crawford next spring should he beat Var­gas. —AP

MON­TREAL: Philadel­phia Fly­ers goalie Steve Ma­son makes a save off Mon­treal Cana­di­ens’ Paul By­ron (41) as de­fence­man An­drew Mac­Don­ald (47) looks on dur­ing first pe­riod NHL hockey ac­tion in Mon­treal on Mon­day. — AP

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