Pacquiao: It’s no longer about the money but honor for country
“It’s not about the money,” boxing champ Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao said, explaining why, at 36 and with his family financially secure for life, he continues to fight in the ring instead of hanging up his gloves.
“I just want to bring honor and pride to (our) country,” he said.
With the same soft-spoken demeanor and heartfelt humility, the eight-division world champion and Sarangani representative disarmed Inquirer officials and employees during a thanksgiving dinner hosted by the paper early this week to honor him.
In response, Pacquiao recounted how he survived a life of hardship, marked by sleeping on cardboard boxes on an empty stomach and a purse of P50 for his first boxing bout. Then with a grin, he stopped short of revealing his earnings of late, which easily run into millions of dollars including fees from product endorsements.
On the Forbes list, Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are the highest paid athletes of 2015.
Clad in denim pants, a checkered black and white polo shirt and sporting a gleaming Rolex watch, Pacquiao also dwelt on his unexpected loss to Mayweather in their Battle for Greatness match on May 2 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Speaking half-seriously, the Pacman said he committed a mistake in training for the encounter dubbed Fight of the Century.
“I trained for boxing, but forgot about marathon,” he said, referring to Mayweather’s fight strategy that had him running around through the 12-round encounter instead of engaging Pacquiao in a slugfest.
It didn’t help any that the Filipino boxer had sustained a tear on his right rotator cup in the fourth round, hampering his ability to deliver effective punches from then on.
Pacquiao eventually underwent arthroscopic surgery in Los Angeles on May 6, although full recovery and rehabilitation would likely put him out of the ring for the rest of the year.
He was no longer wearing a sling on his right arm when he came over for the Inquirer dinner, however, and was doubly thankful for that and for the country’s support in his quest to bring international honor to the Filipino.
As if in prayer, Pacquiao fervently intoned:
“Without God, there will be no Manny Pacquiao.
“Without the (Filipino) people, there will be no Manny Pacquiao.
“Without you guys (in the media), there will be no Manny Pacquiao.”
The boxer made special mention of the Inquirer for sending a five-man coverage team to the United States, headed by its news editor (Jun Engracia), the first time a Philippine newspaper did so. In his 15-minute speech, Pacquiao expressed his thanks to the Inquirer, led by board chair Marixi Prieto, its president Sandy Prieto-Romualdez, chief operating officer Rene Reinoso, and Interactive president Paolo Prieto.
His fans, too, became part of the program when Pacquiao was presented a framed photo of himself, which was actually a collage of some 2,000 pictures of Inquirer readers.
The boxing champ later obliged requests for selfies and autographs from his Inquirer fans, including those from the Editorial group led by editor in chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc and managing editor Joey Nolasco. Even the company’s security guards and utility staff had their moment with the celebrity boxer.
Finally, at 9:48 p.m., Pacquiao headed to his black Cadillac Escalade that was escorted by a backup van and two motorcycle cops.
Before boarding, however, he stopped, said thanks once more, and shook hands with those who covered him in his Hollywood training.
He probably didn’t know it, but the Inquirer was as grateful—and so was every Filipino— that he continues to unite the nation every time he fights.
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