NOTES FROM MACAU
30 Nov 2013
The recently concluded mega fight between superstars Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios in Macao, China was a rousing success. And I had the great privilege of covering the fight dubbed as "The Clash in Cotai" for our sites (Philboxing.com and PinoyGreats.com) readers and visitors. I also had the great joy of working with our editor and owner, Dong Secuya, alongside other outstanding journalists from the Philippines and all over the world, who worked really hard to bring their readers the stories from Macao.
I compiled some of my observations of Fight Week which I wanted to share to our site readers.
PINOY FANS ARE GREAT.
The first fight and bell last Sunday was scheduled at 8 in the morning, but fans were already gathering outside the arena by 5:30 am. I went at the Media Center to pick up my credentials at that time and saw plenty of Pinoy fans waiting eagerly to enter the venue with a full two hours before the gates opened.
They came from nearby Hong Kong via the ferries, others flew from the Philippines and others from nearby Asian countries. I've chatted with one who came from New York and I personally knew of two ardent fans that came from Canada and Alaska. All came to witness the spectacle that is Pacquiao-Rios.
Filipinos made up about 90 percent in the arena last Sunday, a sharp contrast to Pacquiao's last bout against Juan Manuel Marquez last year in Las Vegas where the Filipinos were outnumbered by the Mexicans. Of course the location mattered as Rios is a popular fighter himself, but not in these parts of the world.
Supporters of Philippine typhoon victims make their presence felt during the Pacquiao-Rios weighin.
CELEBS, POLITICOS AND PASTORS PRESENT.
At first they were quiet, but on Fight Day, the who's - who of Philippine show business, politics and religion were present, as always, during a Pacquiao fight.
The presence of celebrities were great, they added to the spectacle during Fight Week. Most of them, except for one that truly turned me off, were friendly to the fans who were present at The Venetian last weekend.
The pastors and their entourage were mostly incognito unlike in Vegas during Pacquiao's two fights last year where their presence were heavily seen. They had been criticized by fans and media as part of Pacquiao's distractions to the extent of blaming them the cause of Pacquiao's twin defeat last year.
I remembered them visiting the gym and suite where Pacquiao trained in Las Vegas, bringing with them friends, relatives etc. for them to meet him, pose for pictures, autographs etc. I had observed none of that last week when I visited both the gym and Pacquiao's suite but that doesn't mean they did not bother Pacquiao, like everyone else who wanted to be near him. They were there and that probably meant Pacquiao was still shouldering their enormous expenses.
The politicos made their presence felt on Fight Day, like mushrooms that sprout out of nowhere. I was expecting less of them in Macao, owing to the series of calamities that hurt the country, of which their presence was badly needed. But no, they were still present last Sunday, like a pupil unwilling to miss his first day of school.
JESSICA SANCHEZ NAILED IT.
The American Idol star was a star of her own right as she performed both the Philippine and American national anthems splendidly. She told this Philboxing.com correspondent that she had been practicing diligently for last Sunday's big event and that she thought she'll do a good job and that she did.
Not only did she perform the "Lupang Hinirang" the way it should be sung, which drew no harsh reaction from the National Historical Society and our historically inclined countrymen, she also wowed the crowd with her rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
She was also very approachable. I witnessed two Pinoys approached her for pictures while she was having lunch and she stopped eating and gladly pose with them.
That in contrast with a global rapper, singer, DJ from Pampanga who ignored fans that were excited to see him. His fans and kababayans elicited no response from this guy, not even a simple wave or smile emanated from him. I even witnessed how he tried to avoid them by hurriedly walking away from Pinoy fans last Saturday night at The Venetian. I had been a fan of this "Pea" since Day One, but I admit that I was and most of those who witnessed his attitude, was turned off by his snobbish attitude.
The Philippine media make their presence felt at the Pacquiao-Rios media room.
L-R: The author with veteran Philippine sports journalits Hermie Rivera and Recah Trinidad.
The Pacquiao-Rios banner towers the entrance of the Venetian Macao.
Photos by Dong Secuya.
MACAU AS THE NEXT VEGAS.
There are plenty of on-going constructions in this former Portuguese colony. The Paris resort is building their French -themed resort beside The Venetian. Plenty of buildings will soon rise as tourist destinations in the next couple of years, adding glitz and glamor to this part of the world. Right now, Macao is still nowhere the entertainment that Vegas offers and that can change with the new themed resorts.
They will compete to attract the large Asian casino dwellers and gamblers who frequent the existing casinos here.
That is welcome news for Filipinos who will be able to benefit from these developments. A large number of Filipinos make up the staff of the major resorts in Macao and more construction mean additional job opportunities for our countrymen.
PACQUIAO- RIOS IS A SUCCESS BUT?
The Clash in Cotai was a blockbuster event, it was a sell-out. But despite it's success and earlier statement that Pacquiao will no longer fight in America, the ageless promoter already has an April 12 date for the Filipino superstar's return bout and this will be in America.
Because, even if the fight was a success at the box-office, the bigger share of the revenue, as we all know, come from pay-per-view buys in America and the West. And that is greatly diminished by staging the fight outside of the US, away from the Western media and the buzz it creates when a mega fight is staged in America. That I assume is one of the reasons why Arum and Pacquiao altered their earlier stance about not fighting in America anymore.
We also need to factor in the money that Top Rank spent for this fight. Arum estimated it to be "in excess of 30 million dollars", that is comparable to a fight that is staged in America. It won't make sense if he puts out the same money while earning a lesser profit (from lesser PPV buys) in future fights.
But Arum is still committed to stage fights in Macao and possibly Singapore, but probably not his biggest money-maker. His stable of Chinese fighters and his ties with ALA Promotions and other local Filipino and Asian promoters/managers will play a big role in promoting boxing in this side of the world.
THE SMILES ARE BACK IN THE FACES OF PINOYS.
We all know the magnitude of this Pacquiao fight, a defeat would mean a defeat for a suffering country. His victory lifted his countrymen and their spirits, if only for a couple of hours. That was evident in Macao and in the shores of the Philippines after the 12 round fight last Sunday.
We all need it, our kababayans in the areas affected by the recent string of disasters need it. Fans of Philippine boxing need it, after lesser success in the last two years for their favorite Pinoy fighters. Pacquiao's victory is a welcome development from all of these combined and he did not disappoint them.
Because let us admit it, no politician, celebrity or sporting hero has brought this amount of pride and joy to this nation. Instead, our politicians and elected public servants draw our ire and anger from their greed and incompetence.
Only a stow-away and a high-school drop-out from General Santos City can make his countrymen smile. No one else can.
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