PACQUIAO WATCH: A genius of a masterstroke
By Edwin G. Espejo
19 Dec 2008
TWO years ago, a bitter legal tussle between Top Tank's Bob Arum and Golden Boy Promotions' Oscar de la Hoya shook the boxing world and threatened the then rising career of Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.
It stemmed from Manny's signing a lucrative promotional contract with Golden Boy Promotion and accepting a kid schooler's stroller filled with 20-dollar bills amounting to $250,000 as signing bonus.
When Bob Arum got wind of the incident, he lost no time launching his own tirade saying Golden Boy tampered with the verbal agreement he already had with Pacquiao.
Bob Arum also presented a strong argument. In his third and grudge bout with Erik Morales, Manny signed the bout contract prohibiting him from entering into any promotional contract until the bout was over.
Manny signed it before his third fight with Morales at Jeng's advice and to the consternation of Roach who was said to then favor De la Hoya.
What followed was a furious exchange of charges and countercharges with both Golden Boy and Top Rank pressing formal charges against each other.
In the thick and in the middle of the imbroglio was long time Pacquiao legal counsel Franklin 'Jeng' Gacal.
He was with Manny Pacquiao when the latter was fetched by De la Hoya at the Los Angeles airport and driven to the posh Morton's Steak House in downtown LA.
Gacal still remembered that incident.
"The very first words De la Hoya uttered were 'Manny, I am a legend. I will make you a legend' as soon as Pacquiao got into the limousine," Gacal recalled.
Also inside were Richard Schaffer and long time Pacquiao coach and trainer Freddie Roach.
De la Hoya then shoved a draft of the contract into the hands of Pacquiao, according to Jeng.
Recalling that whirlwind meeting, Gacal said he told De la Hoya that he and Manny will still have to review the provisions of the contract.
At Morton's, Schaffer and Jeng went through the fine details of the document and some revisions and additions were added.
When all those were settled, Gacal said he insisted that they will still make a final study out of it before Manny would affix his signature.
Those were said in the presence and hearing distance of De la Hoya, Roach and Schaffer which was also seconded by Manny.
According to him, De la Hoya nevertheless signed the contract - with handwritten revisions and erasures all over - and shoved it to Manny who, star struck and still reeling from a grueling 13-hour flight from Manila to LA, signed it according to Jeng.
"I could no longer do anything. Alangan na naman kunin ko yung pen sa kamay ni Manny (It would be inappropriate for me to grab the pen from Manny's hands)," Jeng said.
Jeng should know. He already has a draft of another promotional contract from Bob Arum based on their verbal agreement which Manny signed after his 3rd round technical knockout victory over Morales and not after Arum made a hasty visit at Manny's mansion.
When news of De la Hoya suing Bob Arum, Manny and Jeng over contract disputes reached the Philippine shores, many in the Philippine legal circle expressed disgust over the legal tussle that Manny and Jeng found themselves in.
Many Manny supporters in General Santos and throughout the country likewise questioned Jeng's competence in the light of the fiasco.
The unkindest cut of it all was the campaign to vilify and crucify him in the unofficial Manny Pacquiao website, www.mannypacquiao.ph, by forum visitors and Pacquiao fans.
Many conveniently forgot that it was Gacal who stood with Manny through thick and thin and played a significant role in giving Manny counsel against his previous promoter Murad Muhammad and former manager Shelly Finkel, who also sued him and Jeng, and the many legal cases Manny encountered outside of his professional boxing career.
All told, Manny emerged unscathed and more determined.
Two years later, Jeng said he felt vindicated.
"Had Manny jumped into De la Hoya's camp, he would not have the opportunity to grab from Oscar his status as today's most saleable fighter and heir to the title as the sport's newest superstar," Jeng said while having a break during Manny's 30th birthday bash at the KCC Convention Center in General Santos City.
Oscar will have another consolation, though, aside from co-promoting a number of Manny's fight as a result of a compromise settlement with Top Rank.
His prediction and plans for Manny became true.
He made a legend out of Manny but not through his promotional outfit.
Manny became a legend at Oscar's expense.
Or shall we say, Manny became a legend by beating another legend?
In this world, one's folly could also be another's masterstroke of a piece.
Go figure who got the better end of the bargain.
Sweet victory, isn't it?
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