For Pacquiao, being nice may have its price
HOLLYWOOD—It is part of Manny Pacquiao’s mandate as the people’s champion that he must sign autographs, pose for pictures, grant media interviews and receive celebrities and personalities who want to bask in the glow of his popularity.
And this worries some of those close to the champion going into the final week of his megabuck fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas.
“He’s exposing himself to infection at this crucial stage of his training,” one aide said after witnessing on Friday the visit of a celebrity who was seen coughing and sniffling near Pacquiao.
The celebrity even showed up the next morning at Pan Pacific Park and joined Paquiao and his team for his usual morning abdominal workouts.
On another occasion, a pastor here purportedly to attend to Pacquiao’s spiritual needs was heard coughing beside him as the champion was giving an interview inside his sport utility vehicle.
Medical studies have shown that elite athletes are increasingly prone to upper respiratory tract infections like cough and colds as their training intensifies.
Accompanied by fever, these infections will greatly diminish the athlete’s performance because they reduce his muscular strength and endurance and hamper motor coordination crucial in a boxing match.
“It is a fascinating paradox—the fitter you are, the worse you are at fighting off illnesses,” Dr. Ian Banks, president of Men’s Heath Forum, was quoted as saying by the newspaper The Guardian. “When you exercise very hard you increase the amount of steroids in your body. They are mainly steroid hormones and steroids are a very potent decreaser of the immune responses.”
Price of being nice
It is believed that there’s a small window immediately after a strenuous workout when the athlete is particularly vulnerable to viral infections.
Since he opened training camp more than two months ago, Pacquiao has entertained fans, media and celebrities at Wild Card gym and at his Hollywood home. He has also surrounded himself with scores of bodyguards, supporters and plain hangers-on.
“It’s Manny’s nature,” the aide said. “He’s nice to everyone.”
His most recent callers at home and at the gym were actors Keanu Reeves, Sylvester Stallone, Mark Wahlberg and Cesar Montano, and Sen. Ralph Recto.
Date with destiny
A Pacquiao aide said Montano was coughing when he called on Pacquiao on Friday evening and joined him in his morning workout at the park on Saturday. Also on Friday, he said, Recto arrived with at least 12 companions and his chief of staff came with many items for the champion to autograph.
Manny’s people have to screen more carefully the people who can come near the champion, the aide said.
In the past two weeks, more and more fans had been showing up at Wild Card gym, at Griffith Park and at Pan Pacific Park to watch him. Security was tight at the gym, but not so in the public parks.
The crowd was biggest at Pan Pacific Park on Saturday with fans crowding around a fenced off portion of the children’s playground five deep.
In any of these sites, a high-performance athlete reaching the peak of his form could well catch the virus that could jeopardize his date with destiny.