Angry man ‘attacks’ Pacquiao
HOLLYWOOD—What was supposed to be an easy rest day for Manny Pacquiao turned out to be an interesting one after a man verbally abused the eight-division champion in a parking lot altercation a day before the Pacquiao team convoys to Las Vegas for what could be the last fight of his illustrious career.
A middle-aged Caucasian-looking man hurled expletives at the ring icon—some say he approached the boxer threateningly—just as Pacquiao was about to board his Ferrari outside Kabuki Restaurant on Vine Street on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
Fortunately, Edward Lura, Pacquiao’s longtime friend and head of the so-called “LA Boys,” was able to ward off the man, who was about to throw a punch.
Other members of Pacquiao’s security detail joined the fray and subdued the tall, decently dressed man, who is about 35 years old, according to David Sisson, Pacquiao’s personal assistant, who witnessed the incident around 3 a.m.
Pacquiao saves attacker
Pacquiao, however, prevented them from hurting the man, who kept on shouting: “F–ck you! F–ck you, Pacquiao! You homophobic…”
Homophobia is an irrational fear of or an aversion toward homosexuals.
“Let him go. Don’t hurt him,” Sisson quoted Pacquiao as saying.
Security personnel heeded his call and just pushed the man away as Pacquiao left the premises of the Japanese restaurant, where members of his entourage usually had lunch after attending church service.
Sisson, son of American missionaries based in General Santos City, said Johnny Bantilan, a former boxer and Pacquiao’s friend, had to be restrained from going after the attacker.
The commotion, which drew the attention of restaurant personnel and customers, was apparently an offshoot of the LGBT brouhaha involving Pacquiao last February.
Pacquiao earned the ire of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community after he compared gay people to animals in a television interview in the Philippines.
Though Pacquiao apologized later, his remarks caused Nike to drop him as an endorser and, for a while, affected his rankings in the Philippine senatorial derby. He was also banned from The Grove, a retail and entertainment complex, here.
Pacquiao remained calm throughout Sunday’s incident and even joked that the attacker was not an enemy but a fan.
“He’s a fan, he was saying ‘Pacquiao,’ not f–ck you,” Sisson quoted Pacquiao as saying.
Because of the attack, Pacquiao’s security will be beefed up further as he closes training camp for his third and last showdown with the American Timothy Bradley on April 9 (April 10 in Manila) at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Apart from the LA Boys, security personnel and closed-in bodyguards, a group of Filipino LAPD cops will help secure the reigning Fighter of the Decade in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao was accompanied at Kabuki by wife Jinkee and their five children. Also with the group that racked up a bill of $5,000 were Pacquiao’s mother, popularly known as Mommy Dionisia, and her estranged husband, Rosalio.
The incident interrupted what was a calm Sunday for Pacquiao, who attended Mass before having lunch with his family.
The incident came a day before Team Pacquiao hits the road in a multi-vehicle convoy for the Nevada gambling haven where he will face Bradley.
Pacquiao and Bradley have split two previous showdowns and the Pacman is hoping to win decisively by ending a knockout drought that started since he stopped Miguel Cotto in 2009.
“I have been thinking that the last knockout that I had was in the Cotto fight and I believe the Margarito fight should have been stopped,” Pacquiao said in a transcript provided by promoter Top Rank. “It was a long time ago. I am thinking about it (the knockout) and that’s why I work hard.”
“Right now it is a good thing that I had a layoff—I feel excited and fresh in my body and I will try hard for it in this fight,” he said.
Pacquiao hasn’t fought since losing a unanimous decision to undefeated American Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May last year.
In the back burner
Top Rank chief Bob Arum said he still was not promoting this fight as Pacquiao’s last, but Pacquiao, gunning for a Senate seat, said that if he succeeded in his latest political endeavor, boxing would definitely be put in the back burner.
“After this fight I have already said that my mind is to focus on my job,” said Pacquiao. “If I win a Senate seat, I have a big responsibility and I need to focus on that. I cannot say right now that I am going to retire. I don’t want to say that because I don’t know what the feeling is when you leave boxing. I will give it great thought when I return home.”
Although the fight is not expected to generate even half the interest and profits of the Pacquiao-Mayweather tussle, Arum expects at least 14,000 fans to show up at the MGM Grand for the fight and hopes to breach the 700,000 mark in pay-per-view fights.
To spice up the event, Arum has cooked up a “No Trump Undercard” featuring Latino fighters in a response to Republican presidential aspirant Donald Trump, who has built his campaign around an anti-Latino message.
Trump has said he will build a wall to set up a border between the United States and Mexico.
“I am very excited for my ‘No Trump Undercard’ with the young Hispanic contenders and I think it is resonating tremendously, particularly with the Hispanic community,” Arum said. “I’ve done dozens of radio interviews and television programs with the Hispanic media and there is a lot of excitement.”
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