Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pacquiao, And How

Heard the one about PacMan?

Ring the opening bell, and he slams the door shut.

Saturday night he swung it into Miguel Cotto's face.

Now PacMan -- the Filipino Fist whose real name is Manny Pacquiao -- stands at boxing's top step. His technical knockout 55 seconds into the 12th round gave him a seventh world title in seven weight divisions.

No wonder he's called the face of boxing. Really, who else is there? A couple of Russians at heavyweight you wouldn't know if they walked in the room?

No, you might not be able to spell Pacquiao. You couldn't care less about the alphabet boxing outfits. But you know numbers, and seven for seven? With the seventh belt coming in the World Boxing Organization's welterweight colors that Cotto had owned?

Now that's seventh heaven. For Pacquiao, one of the greatest pound-for-pound, punch-for-punch, dance-for-dance boxers you ever saw. For Vegas, his second home, where he packed 16,000 into the MGM's Grand Garden party. For the Philippines, where he's the hero for the ages. What, you heard of Flash Elrode, the super-featherweight champ of the 1960s? Didn't think so.

The island country is so wild about Manny, countrymen shelled out $50 a pop to catch him on screen at theaters around Las Vegas. The fight's promoter, Bob Arum, reported that his TV halls in Sin City drew 15,000, and you can bet most of them were Filipinos.

As for the live event, Cotto's Puerto Rican rooters raised the roof to an even higher level. Could that be because they had bet against the overdog Pacquiao? Partly.

In the end, the PacMan masses drowned them out. The Filipino Five in front of me in the nosebleed section locked arms the whole bout and in the end were bellowing "We want Floyd!"

That would be Floyd Mayweather Jr., the 40-0 former Ring magazine Fighter of the Year. Pacquiao will take his 50-3-2 record to him next year. The stack of cash awaiting that clash is exactly the right bribe.

Arum: "If Mayweather wants to fight Manny Pacquiao, have him call me."

What to call Pacquiao-Mayweather? Stormy Weather?

Pacquiao-Cotto was billed as Firepower. That worked, especially when the thousands squeezing out of the arena into the MGM casino saw what a fire trap they were in.

On the canvas, the only firepower came from Pacquiao, who weighed 144 pounds. His uppercut in the fourth round decked the 145-pound Cotto. The rest of the fight had this choreography: PacMan charging, Cotto reversing.

Cotto tried to jab his way to safety. PacMan timed it and cleaned his clock.

No wonder the Filipino was smiling on the way to his stool after the sixth round.

"Cotto couldn't win this with a gun," said Anthony Pepe, a radio guy from Boston who stood with me the whole fight.

Pepe was on target, especially since he bet Pacquiao by knockout. I made the same prediction, although didn't bet the fight. I was too satisfied with my $20 winner on Mizzou over Kansas State earlier in the day.

Anyway, we called this one right, which was more than what plenty of other media dudes can claim. Take Tim Smith. He's a biggie with New York's Daily News. And a fine fellow. But he told me Saturday morning Cotto would win.

What? As Pepe and I said as we met in the stands, we're not picking against PacMan's speed.

And did I mention nosebleed? No matter how far up we were, Cotto wasn't a pretty sight.

I'll tell you what was. The round girls. The blonde and brunette who traipsed around the ring holding the round number high were in better shape than the boxers. And wore outfits just as scanty.

So yes, Firepower was worth it. PacMan collected over $13 million, Cotto $7 million.

Vegas drew thousands of gamblers.

Nevada vacuumed millions in taxes. Arum told us press folk that Pacquiao pays 30% of his winnings to the state. If he fought in that old boxing mecca, New York City, he would have to shell out an additional 15%.

"That means," the old promoter said, "Manny Pacquiao will never fight in New York."

And it was worth it to fight fans. Nothing in sports matches a title fight. The atmosphere for Firepower was smokin'.

That's because Manny Pacquiao was packin' heat. Now he can cool off in his hometown, General Santos City, and see about renaming it as he ponders Mayweather.

President Santos City, anyone?

Bucky Fox is an author and editor in Southern California who runs

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