Nick Giongco
BOXING

Pacquiao’s two loves

Nick Giongco

There were a lot of things on Manny Pacquiao’s mind when I came to visit him a few days ago.

Just hours after arriving from Tokyo where he formally announced his 28 July exhibition at the Saitama Super Arena, Pacquiao spoke mainly about two things that he loves the most: Boxing and basketball.

Boxing pertains to his weekly television show Blow-By-Blow which is shown on Cignal’s ONE Sports every Sunday at 8:30 p.m.

“Blow-By-Blow is very close to my heart because it played a vital role in what I am now,” Pacquiao said.

It was the boxing show that introduced him to the public in the 1990s as a scrawny kid from General Santos City.

“The people came to know me because they saw me fight on Blow-By-Blow,” he said.

Since resurrecting the show in late-2022, it has staged almost monthly cards.

“I am not making money from it because the cost to put up one show is no lower than P3million. If the fight is held in the provinces, the cost is much, much more because you have to transport it from Manila.”

‘The MPBL is going strong.’

Pacquiao said holding regular cards is one way of helping Filipino fighters stay active and busy.

“What I want is to stage a world title fight that will be handled by Blow-By-Blow.”

With Pacquiao rallying behind it, Filipino boxers are assured that they will have a regular venue to display their wares.

As for basketball, Pacquiao is obviously referring to the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), the nationwide tournament that continues to treat hardcourt fans in the provinces — and even in Metro Manila — to action-packed and pulsating plays.

“There is a sense of belonging among basketball fans. And this is the reason why they are so enthusiastic when playing home games. You could see the crowd and hear them yell.”

When he launched it six years ago, Pacquiao took low blows from critics and haters who thought the league would get knocked out of consciousness as quick as Mike Tyson’s string of first-round knockout wins.

“The MPBL is going strong,” he added.

As to the others on his plate, Pacquiao is upbeat that the year is going to be explosive.

Next month, he makes a ring return against Japanese-Peruvian Chihiro Suzuki, an event the eight-division legend insists will play a key role in what’s on the horizon.

Towards the last quarter of 2024, Pacquiao expects to officially make his comeback to pro boxing with a world title on the line.

Indeed, things are starting to heat up anew for Pacquiao.