FIRST HAND ACCOUNT: TEAM PACQUIAO EXPERIENCES NY AND DC
By Dr. Allan Recto
Thu, 17 Feb 2011
Washington DC, Feb. 15, 2011 – The NY Chelsea Pier 61 press conference of Manny Pacquiao and Sugar Shane Mosley on Valentine’s day was filled with love and admiration from both teams. There was not even a hype of anger, madness or trash talking for their highly anticipated May 7, 2011 boxing event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Both Teams never exchanged bad words against each other. It was a nice atmosphere to see promoters, fans and media people enjoying themselves. Pacquiao was in a good mood and sometimes smiled, also rarely seen waving to important persons he knows in the audience. Pacquiao looked very confident, a highly respectable man, hardly a boxer but a true congressman.
His gorgeous wife Jinkee was also present, looking contented, especially after receiving a sweet kiss in the lips from Pacquiao during the cake presentation in her honor at the middle of the presscon. Mosley was given a chance to talk about his Valentine’s Day and he remarked, “There’s somebody out there for me.” Mosley looked like a true gentleman. However, one can see through his sharp piercing eyes, connoting his bad intention for Pacquiao in the squared jungle, camouflaged by his killer smile with dimples. “It’s so hard not to like Manny Pacquiao. If you hate him, it is because he has done something personal to you. But as a boxer, he is the best,” remarked Mosley’s trainer Nazeem Richardson. World-renowned trainer Freddie Roach didn’t utter any derogatory remarks against Team Mosley.
Franklin Gacal, Pacquiao’s chief of staff confided to this U.S. correspondent for Philboxing.com that he was glad Team Mosley treats them with professionalism, courtesy and respect, as it should be the case since Team Pacquiao was also respectful to their group. “We are not taking Mosley lightly. Manny will train very hard for this fight,” Atty. Gacal reassured me.
The “Pacquiao Express” Great Train ride to Washington DC
From the Penn Station in New York, Pacquiao and official entourage together with a select media and his promoter group headed to Washington DC by way of Union Station, now designated as a National Visitor Center. Although seemingly tired, Manny and Jinkee, seated across from each other in an exclusive railcar, looked like they were enjoying everything as a sweet couple. After Manny Pacquiao settled down, I asked how he felt about the historic train ride and he replied, “I like riding trains. You see a lot of sceneries. This is exciting for me because this is my first time to go to Washington.”
Incidentally, as reported by USA today, President Obama has plans of creating a national high-speed train access to 80% of Americans in 25 years. Amtrak’s Acela trains, similar to what Pacquiao took, can travel 150 mph., cutting the usual driving distance of 5 hrs. from NY to DC to 2 hrs. 47 mins. by high-speed rail.
Team Pacquiao Arrival at Washington DC
The group arrived safely at the Nation’s Capital by 6:49 pm. Manny and Jinkee were the first ones to reach the elegant Hay-Adams Hotel where the hotel staff greeted them as VIP guests. There were two rows of staff in their crisp uniforms waiting at the main entrance. A hotel staff revealed to me that he was in fact off duty but was called in to provide extra security for Team Pacquiao. A bellhop disclosed to me that he would have wished for an autograph but couldn’t get one, as it is company policy not to interact with hotel guests and to respect their privacy. He could not hide his enthusiasm of being a Pacquiao fan. There was a bit of excitement at the hotel lobby when some guests greeted Manny and Jinkee while rushing in for a quick photo-op with the nice couple that immediately took the elevator to their 5th Floor corner suite. Mike Koncz and wife Rachel, Top Rank boss Bob Arum and wife Lovee were trailing not too far behind. Talented Filipino boxing scribes Abac Cordero and Nick Giongco followed.
U.S. Senator Reid welcomes Philippine Congressman Pacquiao
Historic events in Pacquiao’s itinerary in DC include Sen. Harry Reid’s press conference at the U.S. Capitol building and a courtesy call at the White House with U.S. President Obama. Prior to leaving Hay-Adams Hotel, Dena Duboef of Top Rank announced that Senator Reid’s meeting was nothing more than a brief “meet and greet” and that those who were not in the RSVP list shouldn’t bother riding the chartered bus because if there was a problem with the security on the first screening, Pacquiao could lose his chance to have an audience with Pres. Obama. It was far from the truth. It was more than a “meet and greet.” There were speeches on both sides of the parties. Dena Duboef looked as if she was downgrading the significance of that meeting. It was a brief but a very eventful and momentous press conference.
U.S. Senator Reid praised Pacquiao saying he admires people who rose from the ranks. Congressman Pacquiao and Senator Reid shared a common love for the sport of boxing. Reid also noted that Pacquiao inspires the Filipino community in Nevada. For his part, Philippine Congressman Pacquiao thanked U.S. Senator Reid saying that it was an honor to be there and that it was an unforgettable moment in his life. He hoped that the relation of the Filipino people and the U.S. would continue to grow stronger. Finally, he thanked all his U.S. supporters while promoting his fight with Sugar Shane Mosley.
The only thing missing in Team Pacquiao that is easily noticeable was the absence of Freddie Roach in Washington DC. Top Rank Promoter Bob Arum gladly obliged to be interviewed by the press after Reid and Pacquiao spoke. The Harvard lawyer and brilliant promoter Arum was very glad to have contributed to the achievements of Pacquiao as a boxer. He proudly told the press Pacquiao’s success story. When I asked him during his interview portion if it would be his legacy, he qualified to me that it would be Pacquiao’s legacy, to bring back the sport of boxing to mainstream television.
Upon exiting the building, Pacquiao fielded questions outside the U.S. Capitol Building. Despite the cold weather, he posed for a few pictures while being filmed by the crew that came along to make his movie biography. Pacquiao was very happy and thrilled. He even joked with some reporters asking about his new hairstyle. “Yeah, I’m going to have a haircut before the fight. You see, it’s good to have a different look once in a while so that the viewing public would notice something new,” he stated with a laugh. “Something different,” he added.
Notes: During the NY presscon, Director Leon Gast, Producer Ryan Moore and their crew were specially recognized by a grateful Manny Pacquiao for filming his documentary to be released end of this year. Gast directed the 1996 Academy Award winning documentary “When We Were Kings” which was about the famous heavyweight fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman on October 1974 in Zaire. I missed covering Team Pacquiao in the White House for Manny and Jinkee Pacquiao's meeting with President Obama due to my flight schedule that day which was at 4 pm.
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