KUALA LUMPUR—The biggest names in politics are expected to be at ringside, with reports that even President Duterte will be present at fight night. Show biz personalities and socialites are also scheduled to arrive.
Can’t blame Manny Pacquiao if he wants to put on a show.
Refusing to take it easy on Friday, the 39-year-old boxing legend took part in yet another intense workout, his shirt drenched in sweat after just a few rounds working the mitts—firing combinations in blinding speed.
He ran in the morning.
“At this point we already did everything we needed to do in training,” said his head trainer and closest buddy Buboy Fernandez. “On Sunday we will let it all out.”
Some of the biggest personalities from the Philippines are expected to arrive for the fight, and Pacquiao expects even Mr. Duterte to plane in and watch him attempt to wrest the WBA welterweight crown of Argentine Lucas Matthysse on Sunday.
“I’ll be more excited especially if the President arrives,” Pacquiao said in Filipino in an interview with television journalists. “I’m 100 percent ready.”
Aside from Mr. Duterte, Senate President Tito Sotto and Senators Koko Pimentel and JV Ejercito and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano are also scheduled to arrive.
Show biz media maven Lolit Solis has also been spotted at the same hotel where Pacquiao stays, along with several other movie and TV stars who are known supporters of the Filipino ring icon.
Pacquiao also extended an invitation to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad during a courtesy call.
“He said he’ll try to come and watch the fight,” said Pacquiao, who has just one more thing to hurdle before climbing the ring on Sunday at Axiata Arena here: Saturday’s weigh-in.
But Pacquiao has reportedly been at 145 pounds the past week and should have no problems with the scales.
Fernandez, however, failed to say if Pacquiao is as sharp mentally.
Boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya, a one-time Pacquiao victim, pointed out that Pacquiao’s preoccupation as a senator, boxing promoter and part-time TV personality could be his downfall against the hard-hitting Matthysse.
“I have known him (Pacquiao) for his incredible explosiveness and great work ethic,” said De La Hoya, here as Matthysse’s promoter. “But I don’t know how distracted he will be.”
“So it’s all gonna depend on how Pacquiao reacts once the first bell rings,” De La Hoya said. “Are we gonna see a distracted Pacquiao or are we gonna see a Pacquiao that everybody used to see?”
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