Vegas will sorely miss money-machine Pacquiao
LAS VEGAS—Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao stepped inside his RV, led a convoy of dozens of cars that included a huge bus with his image painted all over it and drove into the i-15 for Los Angeles, leaving this neon-lit gambling and entertainment capital one final time.
He will leave behind more than just memories of an ever-smiling boxer eager to perform under the brightest lights and harshest conditions—his opponents have always been bigger than him and yet he took them on unfazed—and a relentless punching machine for whom at one point a knockout was a sure way to beat the house in casinos here.
He also leaves behind a Nevada money machine that will grind on a bit slower now that he won’t make yearly trips here.
The Pacquiao-Mayweather bout alone proved how much of an impact the eight-division champ has on Las Vegas. Even the cheapest hotels were filled to their very last room although their rates surged by up to 150 percent.
The major ones like MGM Grand charged $1,600 for the fight weekend, 13 times the regular going rate. Bottle prices, food on the menu and generally everything associated with casinos here regained an upsurge at a time when, according to several newspaper reports, the Nevada desert oasis needed to end a diet of tourism and gambling money.
One may argue that this was largely because of the other guy on that boxing card, the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Two things on that argument: Mayweather has fought several times before and never made the same kind of impact, not even when he fought Oscar De La Hoya in a bout many thought would be the poster fight of a sport reeling from the demise of the heavyweight era. Also, Pacquiao was capable of moving the economic needle even without Mayweather.
In fact, Todd DuBoef, president of Top Rank Boxing, told the New York Times that Pacquiao boosted the Las Vegas economy by more than $100 million.
“It’s way more,” said DuBoef. “Not $100 million. Hundreds of millions.”
Like New Year’s Eve
In that same article, Josh Swissman, vice president for corporate marketing at MGM Resorts International, said a Pacquiao fight brought a marked increase in income here. “A fight weekend like this is like New Year’s Eve for us. And New Year’s Eve is the biggest night in the whole city.”
They were talking of a Pacquiao bout against Juan Manuel Marquez then.
Pacquiao departed from Delano, where he stayed in since Monday night, at 4 p.m. on Sunday (Monday in Manila), the day after beating Timothy Bradley Jr. in the third installment of their rivalry at MGM Grand. He hosted a victory party the previous evening after a press conference where he reiterated his retirement plans.
Marking the first day of that plan, Pacquiao attended a Bible study session at Mandalay Bay’s Michael Jackson ONE theater, where about a thousand people were in attendance.
But there was no sign of Bradley, whom Pacquiao had invited to join minutes after their fight.
Pacquiao headed up to his suite at the 60th floor afterwards, where he had lunch with his family.
Flying back to PH
The ring icon is scheduled to fly back to Manila from LA on the 12th as he returns to his campaign for a seat in the Senate for the May 9 elections.
While Pacquiao has had several fights outside of Las Vegas—he has fought in Dallas and San Antonio, in Macau and in the Philippines since his American debut in 2001—the most memorable of his duels have been here.
He rose to worldwide popularity after beating De La Hoya here. He scored his most sensational knockout, a two-round demolition of Ricky Hatton, also at MGM Grand. And his bout against Mayweather may endure as boxing’s richest night ever. He also suffered his biggest loss when he got knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012.
In fact, when Marquez was interviewed by international journalists after Pacquiao-Bradley III and was asked what his favorite fight was, he replied: “All fights are different and every fight is great. But I will remember most the fight on Dec 8, 2012.”
If, indeed, Las Vegas has seen the last of Pacquiao, it will move on in its search for the next fight superstar to again grease its money wheels and provide it with thrilling snapshots of exhilarating boxing action.
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