Pacquiao whips up a storm in Texas
GRAPEVINE, TEXAS—Team Pacquiao arrived here Monday night, turning the otherwise tranquil Gaylord Texan Hotel here into a beehive of activity at 10 p.m.
Led by seven-time world champion Manny Pacquiao, the 188-strong contingent flown in by a chartered Boeing 757 was whisked off from the Dallas-Fort Worth airport by three SUVs and four luxury buses, including one for a prayer group, after a 2 1/2 hour flight from the Atlantic Terminal in Los Angeles.
Among those with Pacquiao at the first class section were wife Jinkee, mother Dionisia, chief trainer Freddie Roach, strength and conditioning expert Alex Ariza and boxers Amir Khan and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
A festive atmosphere pervaded in the plane as Pacquiao walked a few times from front to rear of the narrow-bodied plane reportedly chartered at $100,000 upwards.
Emblazoned with an image of Pacquiao at the middle door and adorned by logos of MP promotions, the plane, which was larger than what Team Pacquiao charted for the Joshua Clottey fight last March, landed smoothy and was towed nearer to the waiting vehicles owing to the windy 17-degree celsius temperature pervading.
Aling Dionisia said she has finally found the courage to watch his beloved son fight in person as she usually spends her time praying with the rosary whenever Pacquiao fights.
“I’m still nervous, but I think I can endure (my son getting hurt),” said Dionisia, who was accompanied by a cousin, son Bobby and his wife Lorelie.
All those on board were provided by the six crew members with chocholate lollipops, sandwiches, chips, apples and specially-made Pacquiao desserts courtesy of Goldilocks.
Also present were Filipino trainers Buboy Fernandez and Nonoy Neri, Olympic silver medalist Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco, recently retired former world champion Gerry Peñalosa, and Johnny and Liza Elorde, whose son Bai is scheduled to appear in the undercard of Pacquiao-Margarito, and burly security personnel for the word champion.
As usual, all the activity inside was being recorded by film crews from HBO, an independent outfit headed by Academy Award winner Leon Gast, ABS-CBN, GMA, American journalists and Manila-based sportswriters.
NOTES: Academy Award winner Leon Gast and his crew are among the passengers of Air Pacquiao flight 9417. Gast’s documentary, When We Were Kings, about The Rumble in the Jungle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman ran away with the documentary feature and Independent Spirit awards in 1996. Gast, also a film director, producer, cinematographer wants to chronicle Pacquiao’s exploits. According to Gast, he was part of Don King Promotions during the Thrilla in Manila in 1975… After a smooth plane flight, Pacquiao’s entourage experienced anxious moments after their baggage got misplaced due to a misunderstanding… It was announced in the buses that the luggage were to be delivered to the rooms while the group ate dinner consisting of pancit molo, daing and baked milkfish, chicken adobo, pinakbet and pancit with fruit salad for dessert.