KUALA LUMPUR – If the attendance in the second and final leg of the twin-city press tour to promote the coming Manny Pacquiao-Lucas Matthysse title showdown held Friday at the luxurious Le Meridien Hotel for the latter’s World Boxing Association welterweight crown will be the gauge, there’ no way the card won’t be a big success.
The12-round bout, the first international extravaganza the Manny Pacquiao Promotion, in coordination with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy outfit, is set to happen July 14 (July 15in Manila and Malaysia) at the Axiata Arena.
No less than 500 journalists mainly from Asia and a sprinkling from Europe and other guests were on hand primarily to see in person, Pacquiao, in particular, and the defending champ, and hear them spell out their chances.
And the protagonists didn’t fail them. The Argentine belt-owner, for one, declared he didn’t travel this far only to go back home not bringing back the plum he just won last January.
The Filipino ring great, for his part, retorted it’s not his intention to lose this fight, especially because this, definitely, is one of the only few remaining assignments he is committed to meet before finally hanging up his fighting trunks.
Pacquiao assured everybody he doesn’t want to fail his loyal countrymen, who like in his many encounters in the past would again be watching to see him win. And Asians, too, who, he learned, favored him by the way the questioning from the region’s scribes went.
Like in the first stop held in Manila a day before Thursday, the 35-year-old divorcee reiterated Pacquiao’s time is now over and it’s now his time to be at the top of the 147-pound division and enjoy the big money attached to it.
Pacquiao answered back, saying Matthysse is just four years younger than his 39-yeear-old body and that won’t make any difference, especially in a sport like boxing. And so on and so forth.
This early though, this writer is inclined to believe that the promoters, the event organizers, and all the people involved in the preparations and actual staging of the fight are already winners.
Doubted initially for their capacity to supervise and manage an event of this magnitude, those people, to me, had passed the test with flying colors.
Except from a minor fiasco in transporting the protagonists, their respective teams, media men and guests when they arrived at the KL International Airport to their hotels upon arrival, everything went on smoothly from there.
Accommodation at Le Meridien Hotel, especially the foods were superb. Teams Pacquiao and Matthysse, I should say, cannot ask for more. Everybody wore their most beautiful smile, every time they visit the restaurant were an array of international delicacies were served.
NOTES: Tragedy struck the San Antonio Spurs and the entire NBA community on Wednesday. Erin Popovich, the wife of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, passed away. The Spurs released an official statement, which was posted by Rob Thompson of ESPN.
From the San Antonio Spurs: “With deep regret the San Antonio Spurs announce that Erin Popovich, wife of Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich, passed away earlier today. Erin and Gregg were married for four decades and were blessed with two children and two grandchildren.
Members of Team Pacquiao and guests set foot in this city close to 4 a.m. Friday from a four-hour trip from Manila on board the Philippine Airlines chartered flight 8525 safe. Thanks to the expert handling of chief pilot, Capt. Martin Ahyesa and his crew composed of FOs Benjamin Umali and Ylysse Delkva; flight purser Guerico Mariano and flight attendants ‘Zeenat Malino, Karen Pacheco, Anton dela Paz and Edelberto Almonte.
By EDDIE G. ALINEA