Manny in demand

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Manny Pacquiao is officially retired from boxing but continues to be in demand for appearances and exhibitions all over the world. The door is slightly open for Pacquiao to make a ring comeback in a regular fight but unless Floyd Mayweather decides to tango, its not likely to happen. Mayweather is enjoying the exhibition circuit and wont want to risk staining his unblemished 50-0 record by taking on Pacquiao in a rematch.

Last December, Pacquiao faced martial arts expert DK Yoo in a six-round exhibition in Goyang, South Korea. Each round was clocked at two minutes, instead of three and to make it appealing, three judges scored the fight. Pacquiao floored Yoo five times but Korean referee Jung Sung Kim called only one knockdown in a comical display of one-sidedness. The exhibition had no weight stipulation as Pacquiao scaled 161 pounds, way over his usual 147 or the welterweight limit and Yoo, about 175.

It wasnt Pacquaios first exhibition outing. In 2002, he engaged former WBA superbantamweight champion Jesus Salud, a Hawaiian of Filipino descent, in a three-round exhibition in Honolulu and won a decision. And last October, Pacquiao did a round of fun sparring each with Korean showbiz celebrities Kim Jong Kook and Haha in Seoul.

Last September, unbeaten French lightweight Jaber Zayani met up with Pacquiao to discuss an exhibition between the two in Riyadh. However, nothing came of it. Pacquiao was promised a down payment but no money was ever deposited. For Pacquiao, it was no skin off his back. If theres money on the table, why not take it? If theres none, its off to the next table. Money isnt Pacquiaos motivation. Whatever money he earns from exhibitions or appearances goes to charity, in particular his housing projects for the homeless. So far, Pacquiao has built five Pacman villages for the underprivileged in General Santos City and the Sarangani towns of Alabel, Malungon, Glan and Maasim. His dream is to provide housing for 10 million homeless Filipino families.

Meanwhile, things are boiling in Pacquiaos pot. Australian boxing guru Peter Maniatis is wrapping up a deal for Pacquiao to tangle with two-time WBA supermiddleweight titlist Anthony (The Man) Mundine in a six-round exhibition in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in June. Maniatis and Mundine are planning to visit Pacquiao in Manila this month to finalize details of the event which is backed by PNG Sports Foundation executive director Al Veratau and Oceania Fight Promotions managing director Maryanne Millie. The proposed site is the 15,000-seat St. John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby.

Another project is for Pacquiao to make live UK appearances on stage in Leeds on Aug. 31, London on Sept. 1 and Wales on Sept. 4. The tour is being organized by Experiencewith.com, an event producer that has done similar fan engagements with Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Conor McGregor, Mel Gibson, Sylvester Stallone and Al Pacino. Then there is Japans top MMA promoter Rizin Fighting Federations offer for Pacquiao to appear in an exhibition during the summer. For a 44-year-old retired champion, Pacquiao is busier than ever.

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