CNN’s Talk Asia catches up with Manny Pacquiao at his gym in Los Angeles as he tells Anjali Rao about his love for his native Philippines. The show also takes viewers to Pacquiao’s hometown of General Santos City, where he is revered equally for his boxing skills and community activism.
Manny Pacquiao has established himself as one of the most exciting fighters in boxing today. He’s often referred to as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world – a position cemented with his stunning defeat of the legendary Oscar De La Hoya. Pacquiao is now in the final stages of training for an upcoming bout with Britain’s Ricky Hatton in a Las Vegas showdown billed as “The Match of the Year.”
Dubbed the “Battle of East and West”, the tickets to see the mega fight between “Pac-man” and “The Hitman” are already sold out. Despite the verbal sparring between their trainers, the Filipino fighter speaks highly of his British opponent: “Fighting with English fighter is my honor and Ricky Hatton is a nice person too. We don’t care if they’re talking trash. We try our best to give a good fight and make people happy.”
For Pacquiao even the US$12 million dollar paycheck he’s expecting from the fight can’t beat the adulation he gets from his people. The national hero is grateful for his local support: “For my every fight, I always dedicate to my countrymen. I’m so happy because during my fight, there’s no crime happening in the Philippines. Everybody watches on TV, watches my fight and I’m very happy.” It’s often reported that when Pacquiao is fighting, the crime rate falls to zero and the government’s 40-year war with communist rebels came to a halt, as people pause to watch the bout.
The 30-year-old fighter made his mark in the ring with a stunning win over the legendary Oscar De La Hoya, which ended the Hispanic American’s career. “He made a good decision to retire because he already made it in boxing as the best fighter in the world.” Pacquiao added, “I feel of course proud and happy because his last fight was with me. But Oscar is still my idol. I admire that boxer.”
As for life after boxing, Pacquiao’s thoughts turn to politics, despite his defeat in 2007’s congressional elections. “Before, because I’m in the top of my career and people they don’t want me to enter into politics. I think that’s why I lost in the last election. But this time, I prove them all they want to see in boxing, so the next step is going to run again in politics.” But Pacquiao denies any plans to run for president: “No, my dream is to run for Congress only. I just want to help my countrymen, especially in Santos City.”