Boxing: Pacquiao fighting for his nation

After tonight's world title fight with Cotto, revered Filipino will run for Congress

Each time Manny Pacquiao fights, his beloved Philippines falls silent in anticipation and respect for the tiny man that is being groomed to one day become the President.

Pacquiao fights Puerto Rico's Miguel Angel Cotto for the World Boxing Organisation welterweight title in the early hours of tomorrow morning at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and the Philippine idol could become a champion at a sixth weight, but victory would also prove that he is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

At ringside there will be dozens of Filipino politicians, all desperate for the fighter's blessing and aware that he has announced that he will run for a Congressional seat in the Philippines next year. In May, when he beat Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas, the high-ranking men in tailored suits and golden ties surrounded him for hours, thrusting mobiles in his face for him to talk to various people back in Manila.

It is, according to Bob Arum, the veteran promoter, hard to imagine just how popular Pacquiao is in his home country. "I was with Muhammad Ali and he never had this type of devotion – this kid is the biggest thing in the Philippines and everybody wants a piece of him," Arum said.

There are claims that during his fights a ceasefire exists when the military and the communist guerrillas sit down to watch him. Some people believe that Pacquiao is a modern saint, descended from the Maharlikan people, who were conquered by the Spanish 500 years ago. He carried their flag at the Beijing Olympics, and it is written in Philippine law that the army must protect him, his wife and their four children in any emergency.

"The Philippines has the best social welfare system in the world and it is called Manny Pacquiao," added Arum. After a fight Pacquiao has hundreds of people waiting outside his mansion for him to share the money in a traditional Filipino method of aid, which is called balato. The money (about £3) often comes in a bag with some rice and sardines, and Pacquiao hands it over personally. "It happens every single day and all day," Arum said.

A few months ago, at a pub in Manchester, Pacquiao and Hatton played darts. It was not much of a match, but Pacquiao sat down at the end and told a story about leaving home when he was 12, living on the streets and first taking up boxing. Somebody asked why he had left home so young. "My dad cook my dog," he replied. His father needed to feed the family and the stray that the young Manny had found and fed was skinned, flavoured and served.

It will be difficult for Pacquiao tonight because Cotto can be an excellent counter-puncher and will not fold like Oscar De La Hoya, who suddenly became an old man in the ring last year or rush out wild like Hatton did. However, Pacquiao has the speed and the support of about 90 million devoted Filipino fans, and that gives him a unique edge in any fight.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...