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Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013

MAN ABOUT SPORTS

Pacquiao being dragged down by shameless entourage of freeloaders


By DAVE WIGGINS

VERO BEACH, Florida — To all those who say Manny Pacquiao is finished because of his recent knockout loss, MAS says "Hogwash!" Manny hasn't lost "it".

Dave Wiggins

What he definitely needs to lose, though, is his humongous, concentration-sapping entourage.

Those myriad hangers-on, just as much as the perfect storm of a punch, caused Pacquiao to lose his latest Las Vegas encounter with Juan Manuel Marquez. Before he was KO'd, Manny looked sharp and was taking control of that fight — he had bloodied Marquez and broken the Mexican's nose. Then Pac-man got careless and waded face-first into a crunching right hand that would have floored an elephant.

You can blame that carelessness on a lack of focus. And, in turn, that missing concentration can be chalked up — in large part — to all the distractions Pacquiao endured from the multitudes tugging on him and leeching off him during pre-fight training.

Everywhere Manny prepared — in the Philippines, Los Angeles and Vegas — a seemingly excessive number of family, friends and flunky freeloaders went along for the ride.

There's a reason why, before fights, Oscar De La Hoya used to retreat to Bear Mountain, in an isolated section of California. And Muhammad Ali would sequester himself in the rural hills of sleepy Deer Lake, Pennsylvania.

And that reason was: TO GET AWAY FROM IT ALL — from those truly close to them as well as the Minnie-the-Moocher types that invariably come out of the woodwork at fight-time.

Manny was never allowed that necessary isolation from outside influences that narrows focus and heightens physical sharpness. The poor guy was too busy dealing with ridiculous and selfish requests like the one from his PASTOR, of all people, who asked for 44 free tickets (which Manny had to pay for himself) and Vegas hotel accommodations for those ticketholders as well.

This, from a man of the cloth who is supposed to be in the conscience-cleansing business. How can anyone of good conscience himself make such an outlandish request?

So you can just imagine the looking-after required for the rest of Manny's aforementioned extended family — said to be in the hundreds — ferried from L.A. to Vegas by bus and housed in hotels there for the fight; this after many had been FLOWN in from the Philippines.

An HBO series on the fight leadup showed Pac-man's personal assistants handling tickets he was distributing to his hangers-on. There had to be a thousand ducats filling a hotel bed full of shoe boxes — all of which came out of Pacquiao's purse, at several hundred bucks a pop.

The expression "generous to a fault" must have been invented for Manny Pacquiao. I don't fear Manny losing his skills as much as I do him getting sucked dry of his career earnings.

Add to all the freeloading that Pacquaio is no saint, either. He has squandered a lot of dough by his lonesome on carousing and gambling. Reportedly, his promoter Bob Arum often has to provide an advance on his next fight to Pacquiao so Manny can clear gambling debts. Can you say dwindling assets?

Paquiao's misbehavior almost led to a divorce. Only Manny's religious transformation saved his marriage. Or maybe it was Manny's willingness to spend a fortune on his wife Jinkee and friends, a la Kobe Bryant after the Laker star got caught with his hand in a Colorado cookie jar.

The Jinkster had a paid-for posse that was even bigger than the multitude of mostly cronies and phonies that make up Manny's infamous "Team Pacquiao" inner-circle.

To avoid financial disaster, Manny clearly needs to reign in his drunken-sailor spending — on both himself and those around him. Does the name Mike Tyson ring a bell?

Some say that Manny likes having all those people around him. That it relaxes him. In MAS's opinion, some re-thinking by Manny regarding true loyalty is in order.

He should look at video of himself in the ring after his knockout of Ricky Hatton and then observe the post-Marquez loss scene. Following the Hatton victory his "faithful" were packed into the ring like anchovies in a tin can. And most were positioned BEHIND Manny so the TV cameras could catch their mugging antics.

After his Marquez loss, the only people I saw at Manny's side were his Filipino manager and American trainer Freddie Roach. The rest of the usual horde were nowhere to be seen — like rats who had abandoned a sinking ship.

I really admire Manny Pacquiao's ferocity in the ring and pleasant disposition outside it. Conversely, I loathe all those who try to take unfair advantage of his goodness and generosity.

Those folks should know better. If they truly cared for the guy, they'd leave him to the task at hand and not disturb his concentration in any way before a fight,

MAS feels Manny CAN get it all back — his former success and enough money for a secure future. But only if he learns when and where to just say "No!"

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Contact Man About Sports at: davwigg@gmail.com



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