WORLD BOXING ICON Manny Pacquiao in training at the Wild Card Gym years ago as Philippines Today and PhilAm Press editor Alfred Gabot and tourism attache Manny Ilagan look on. (Photo by Nick Sagmit)
By EDDIE G. ALINEA
LOS ANGELES, CA (PhilAmPress) – In his 21-year fighting career, Filipino boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao has fought eight times in the month of November emerging triumphant in all of them, including championship victories over Marco Antonio Barrera, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito.
It was at the expense of Barrera that Pacquiao, now a member of the Philippine Senate, took the Ring Magazine featherweight crown on November 15, 2003 via an 11th round TKO at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio Texas.
On November 14, 2009, the Pacman dethroned Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto as the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight king with a resounding 12th round TKO. In the process, earning his third “Fighter of the Year” honors from the Boxing Writers Association of America.
The following year on November 10, 2010, the former Congressman from Sarangani Province in Mindanao, became the only man in the history of the sport of sweet science to be crowned champion 10 times in eight weight divisions by punishing Antonio Margarito, in all of their 12-round encounter in Arlington, Texas for the Word Boxing Council (WBC) super-welterweight jewel.
On November 5 (November 6 in Manila), the father of five with wife, former Sarangani Vice Gov. Jinkee, can go a perfect 9-0 win-loss record in this fall month when he trades shots with current WBO belt-holder Jessie Vargas aiming to recapture the throne he used to sat on twice before and, thus, emerge as the first incumbent senator to win a world boxing crown.
And if his winning trend continues, and the 15 ½ to 1 betting odds hold, the reigning “Fighter of the Decade” honoree of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) can resume performing his lawmaking duties as senator when he returns home a day after the fight on November 6 (November 7 in Manila).
Meanwhile, Hollywood star Sylvester Stallone visited his Filipino boxing friend at the Wild Card Gym on Thursday and was impressed with what he saw from Filipino ring icon after watching the “Pacman” spar for six rounds against Rey Beltran.
“The best fighter in the last 60 or 70 years,” Stallone proclaimed after shaking hands and taking a picture with Pacquiao. “Period. For real,” he was quoted as saying by ABS-CBN.
“Even better than Rocky Balboa,” the actor jokingly added, referring to the character he made famous in a series of movies from the mid-1970s and revived in a 2015 film.
Stallone is a big fan of the “Pacman,” and has regularly visited the fighter when he trains at the Wild Card Gym.
One other big name who fell victim in this particular season of the Filipino southpaw’s professional career that might as well be aptly called “Pacquiao Month” was Erik Morales whom he knocked out in the third round of the final chapter of their trilogy on November 18, 2006.
Brandon Rios, lost his WBO International title on November 24, 2013 in Macau. Pacquiao could have ended his five-year knockout drought when he defeated Chris Algieri kissing the canvass six times in their 12-round date November 29, 2014, also in Macau, but the Pambansang Kamao could only settle for a unanimous decision win.
If assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez will have his way though, Pacquiao can more than make up for his failed attempts for a stoppage triumph since his 12-round TKO of Cotto in his November 5 meeting with Vargas.
“Kayang-kaya,” exclaimed Pacquiao’s boyhood friend after the former’s fourth day of training at the Wild Card Gym here Thursday. “No amount of brave pronouncements from Vargas can reverse not only the trend of Manny’s record in the month of November, but, likewise, the gains we have attained in our five weeks of preparations. “
“What we are talking here is the kind of preparations the Vargas team had undertaken? May kakayahan na ba ang bata nila? Para sa darating na laban kung saan sasagutin ang tanong kung sino ang mananalo. Hindi sa press conference,” Buboy said in reference to the projections Vargas and his handlers announced during the media day Thursday.
“Not that we’re bragging, but as we’ve been saying, two weeks pa lamang bago kami umalis ng Maynila, handa na kaming lumaban. Kaya nga easy-easy na lang tayo pagdating dito a L.A,” he attested. (Eddie G. Alinea/PhilAmPress)
FIGHTING SENATOR Manny Pacquiao steps up his training for another WBO title fight against Jessie Vargas in Las Vegas on Nov. 5. (Photos by Wendel Alinea)