FIGHTING AGAIN. Senator Manny Pacquiao discusses his Nov. 5 fight in Las Vegas against Jessie Vargas with promoter Bob Arum and consultant Mike Koncz at his Senate office. (Photo by Wendell Alinea)
By EDDIE G. ALINEA
Special to Philippines Today US
PASAY CITY (PhilAmPress/PhlTodayUSA) – It’s official. World boxing icon and newly minted Philippine Senator Emmanuel ‘’Manny” Pacquiao will return to the boxing arena on November 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Not only that. Pacquiao may have two more fights about that November 5 bout, and one of them could be a rematch with retired undefeated world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Thus, starting this week, the Filipino fighting Senator will be dividing his time between performing his job as a lawmaker and preparing for his comeback fight against reigning Mexican-American World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Jessie Vargas.
The newly-elected Senator and his promoter, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, jointly confirmed the Pacquiao-Vargas showdown late last week during the American boxing impresario’s visit in Manila and the Philippine Senate.
“Yes, the fight is on. I have agreed to a November 5 fight with reigning WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas,” the 37-year-old Pacquiao said in a statement.
“Boxing is my passion. I miss what I’d been doing inside the gym and atop the ring,” he added.
“Boxing is my main source of income. I can’t rely on my salary as public official,” the senator said.
“I’m helping the family of my wife and my own family, as well. Many people also come to me to ask for help and I just couldn’t ignore them,” he explained.
After winning a unanimous decision against American champion Timothy Bradley in April, Pacquiao announced his retirement from boxing to focus on his political career.
The 12-round match of Pacquiao ((58-6-2, 38 KOs) and the 27-year-old Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) on November 5 will be held at the Thomas and Mack Center in the gambling city of Las Vegas.
The date of the fight, the eight-division world champion’s 66th, falls exactly during recess in Senate sessions, which start October 22 to November 6.
The initial training regimen, according to the solon’s business consultant Mike Koncz, will consist of light roadwork — leisure running and jogging — at the Roxas Blvd. strip, which is just a stone’s throw away from the Senate building in Pasay City.
“It will just be for the purpose of doing away with rustiness and excess muscle Manny developed during the three-month interval following his last fight (against Timothy Bradley) last May, ” Koncz averred.
“We’re still looking for a boxing gym near the Senate building where the Senator can start the gym phase of training maybe two weeks from now as training slowly shifts to high gear,” said Koncz, who flew back to the country with Arum.
“The idea is for Manny not to miss sessions, which he promised the Filipinos even before he was elected to the Senate. There is also the possibility of holding his preparations in his own gym in General Santos City during non-session days,” he added.
It was after that Bradley fight when the ring icon, then an outgoing congressman, announced his self-imposed retirement in order, he said, to concentrate his time to serving his people more when elected to a higher post as member of the Upper Chamber of the Philippine Congress.
“After all, sessions are held three times a week from Monday to Wednesday, so, he can fly to GenSan Wednesday evening and workout there Thursday to Saturday,” Koncz explained.
Koncz said he sees no problem in the setup, adding Pacquiao has been successful in managing his time since entering the world of politics and even when he was still involved in showbiz.
“Nothing to worry about. Manny’s always been very busy all his life and he always finds time to rest and do more things,” he said.
“He can, for instance, sleep in his Senate office after his early morning roadwork then attend whatever committee meetings there are mid morning and the session in the afternoon. No problem really,” Koncz said.
The lone press conference scheduled to announce the fight will be held September 8 at the Beverly Hotel in Los Angeles, according to Koncz.
Arum visits Senate
PASAY CITY — Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri has found valid reason to ask for the suspension for few minutes the Senate session last week.
”Mr. President, I would like to ask for one minute suspension to allow our colleagues to take photo opportunity with our guest Bob Arum,” Zubiri moved after Senate Majority Vicente Sotto III acknowledged the presence of the popular top boxing promoter of Senator Manny Pacquiao.
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III yielded to Zubiri’s motion and for almost five minutes, Arum was surrounded by fellow guests of the session and by senators who asked for photo op.
Pacquiao introduced fellow Senators Richard Gordon and Zubiri to his promoter who is in the country to finalize the Filipino boxing icon’s next fight on November 5.
Arum confirmed that World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Jessie Vargas of Mexico will be the next opponent of Pacquiao.
”We’re all set for Nov. 5. He’s (Pacquiao) gonna fight for the welterweight championship of the world against this tough young Mexican-American Jessy Vargas who won the title early this year by knockout,” Arum told the Senate media.
Arum said Pacquiao can train in the Philippines while the Senate is on session so as not to disrupt the boxing superstar-turned senator.
The Top Rank Promotion boss said if Pacquiao hurdles Vargas, more fights will be scheduled for the Filipino boxing icon next year before finally hanging his gloves for good.
”Hopefully, if he beats Vargas there will be some other big fights available next year and am pretty sure that will be enough and by 2017, we will be seeing the end of Manny’s brilliant boxing career,” Arum said.
In a separate interview, Pacquiao confirmed that November 5 has been reserved for his next fight.
”It was the date reserve for my next fight. Hopefully, this week, the fight will be sealed,” Pacquiao said.
As congressman of Sarangani in the last 16th Congress, Pacquiao was highly criticized for missing most of the session days due to his trainings for his previous fights.
Pacquiao is coming off a unanimous victory against American Timothy Bradley in their rubber match last April in Las Vegas.