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
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable