SHOW­MAN

Pac­quiao ‘ex­cited’ to put on en­ter­tain­ing fight in front of Pres­i­dent Duterte

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - SPORTS - By Marc Anthony Reyes @mar­creyesINQ

KUALA LUMPUR— The big­gest names in politics are ex­pected to be at ring­side, with re­ports that even Pres­i­dent Duterte will be present at fight night. Show biz per­son­al­i­ties and so­cialites are also sched­uled to ar­rive.

Can’t blame Manny Pac­quiao if he wants to put on a show.

Re­fus­ing to take it easy on Fri­day, the 39-year-old box­ing leg­end took part in yet an­other in­tense work­out, his shirt drenched in sweat af­ter just a few rounds work­ing the mitts—fir­ing com­bi­na­tions in blind­ing speed. He ran in the morn­ing. “At this point we al­ready did ev­ery­thing we needed to do in train­ing,” said his head trainer and clos­est buddy Buboy Fer­nan­dez. “On Sun­day we will let it all out.”

Some of the big­gest per­son­al­i­ties from the Philip­pines are ex­pected to ar­rive for the fight, and Pac­quiao ex­pects even Mr. Duterte to plane in and watch him at­tempt to wrest the WBA wel­ter­weight crown of Ar­gen­tine Lu­cas Matthysse on Sun­day.

“I’ll be more ex­cited es­pe­cially if the Pres­i­dent ar­rives,” Pac­quiao said in Filipino in an in­ter­view with tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ists. “I’m 100 per­cent ready.”

Aside from Mr. Duterte, Se­nate Pres­i­dent Tito Sotto and Sen­a­tors Koko Pi­mentel and JV Ejercito and For­eign Af­fairs Sec­re­tary Alan Peter Cayetano are also sched­uled to ar­rive.

Show biz me­dia maven Lolit So­lis has also been spot­ted at the same ho­tel where Pac­quiao stays, along with sev­eral other movie and TV stars who are known sup­port­ers of the Filipino ring icon.

Pac­quiao also ex­tended an in­vi­ta­tion to Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Ma­hathir Mo­hamad dur­ing a cour­tesy call.

“He said he’ll try to come and watch the fight,” said Pac­quiao, who has just one more thing to hur­dle be­fore climb­ing the ring on Sun­day at Ax­i­ata Arena here: Satur­day’s weigh-in.

But Pac­quiao has re­port­edly been at 145 pounds the past week and should have no prob­lems with the scales.

Fer­nan­dez, how­ever, failed to say if Pac­quiao is as sharp men­tally.

Box­ing leg­end Os­car De La Hoya, a one-time Pac­quiao vic­tim, pointed out that Pac­quiao’s pre­oc­cu­pa­tion as a sen­a­tor, box­ing pro­moter and part-time TV per­son­al­ity could be his down­fall against the hard-hit­ting Matthysse.

“I have known him (Pac­quiao) for his incredible ex­plo­sive­ness and great work ethic,” said De La Hoya, here as Matthysse’s pro­moter. “But I don’t know how dis­tracted he will be.”

“So it’s all gonna de­pend on how Pac­quiao re­acts once the first bell rings,” De La Hoya said. “Are we gonna see a dis­tracted Pac­quiao or are we gonna see a Pac­quiao that every­body used to see?”

—AFP

Manny Pac­quiao prom­ises a show for the high-pro­file guests at ring­side.

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