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Bleacher Talk: Train in Peace


PhilBoxing.com




We may not realize it, but Cebu is the envy of Philippine boxing these days. And it’s all due to Manny Pacquiao’s decision to make the country’s boxing hotbed as training base for his upcoming fight against Marco Antonio Barrera.

When we first heard about this news, we didn’t want to believe it. After all, why choose Cebu over the usual Wild Card Gym of Freddie Roach? Why didn’t Manny decide to work out at the Wild Card Gym in Para?aque, Roy Golingan’s gym in Gen San or the ABAP Gym in Baguio? Every time local training for Pacquiao was discussed in the past, these were always the only venues proposed to or for the Pacman. The irony of all this was that Cebu was always left out in all these talks.

I guess what goes around comes around. For the first time since tying up with Freddie Roach, Pacquiao is not making Wild Card as his main base of operations. Believe it or not. Cebu is it! I can now recall those previous marketing communication campaigns that Cebu launched with such messages as “Cebu is the answer!”, “Make it Cebu!” and “Cebu: Island in the Pacific.”

Many have asked why Manny chose Cebu as his base, and many have come up with the most credible and ridiculous reasons, ranging from professional to the most stupid. With all the speculation going around, we may never get to the real reason why Pacquiao made it Cebu. So let’s leave it at that. The more important part is that we have a role to play in this latest development.

For starters, we must be grateful to Pacquiao for making such an obviously wise decision. Who would’ve imagined that he would be willing to stay in Cebu for a long period after being booed by a stadium of fans last February? How can we ever forget that? For the first time in his life, Pacquiao was actually booed by Cebuanos. Now if you were Pacquiao, wouldn’t all the booing have an impact on making a decision where to train?

If we are truly Pacquiao fans, we’ll also have to treat him as he should be treated: with respect. And the most important thing that we must remember is that Pacquiao is here to work. He’s not here on a vacation or having an off-season RNR break to be with his fans. He’s here to do some serious training for another career-defining battle against a future hall-of-famer in Barrera. You can be sure that like Pacquiao, Barrera is working his butt off to get in great shape for the fight. He’s in the sunset phase of his career and another loss could mean a quick trip to retirement. Don’t look now but Pacquiao did just that to Erik Morales who decided to call it quits one fight after being devastated by the Pacman. Whether or not he admits it, sending two Mexican greats to retirement is a feat that is very much Pacquiao’s agenda on the way to establishing a hall of fame career for himself.

So what do we do? Let Pacquiao train in peace. Please. Palihog lang.

One of the most difficult tasks to achieve when in training is focus especially when hundreds of distractions get in the way. The most obvious ones are those right inside the gym when fans and outsiders literally make the gym a second home, a tambayan. I find it surprising that after Freddie Roach declared a closed-door policy on Pacquiao’s training sessions at Wakee Salud’s Gym, many outsiders still find their way inside the gym to watch the Pacman. While Wakee Salud’s in-house security or staff may be put to the task, let’s not make it any tougher for them. Let’s not even take the initiative to even attempt to watch a Pacman training session. Public and open training sessions will be announced, and this is when we can go and watch the Pacman at work.

From the side of fans, it’s understandable why they would like to watch Pacquiao train. He’s a national hero who isn’t here too often, and who knows if he’ll decide to train here again in the future? But this is why one day of the week is devoted to the public.

At the end of the day, we want Cebu to be part of Pacquiao’s win over Barrera. When Pacquiao’s hand is raised as Michael Buffer announces his name on October 6 (October 7 in the Philippines), we will proudly say that Cebu played a big role in that win. But in order to make this happen, we’ll have to let Pacquiao get the quality training that he needs in order to prepare for the fight. And quality training means the absence of people who have no business at the Wakee Salud Gym, and this includes us in the sports media.

It’s a tough choice we have to make, but it has to be done. Do we want Pacquiao to win in a devastating fashion? Do we want Pacquiao to send another Mexican great to retirement? Do we want Pacquiao to make Cebu his permanent training base for all his future fights? Do we want to be a part of Pacquiao’s greatest wins?

Then let’s leave him alone to train in peace.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Rico Navarro.


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