Boxing’s first and only octuple champion (and Philippine congressman) Manny Pacquiao takes on American Chris Algieri in the Clash in Cotai II this month. Zach Hines sat down with the Pac-Man on his recent trip to Hong Kong to find out about his training regimen, expectations for the fight, and political aspirations for higher office.
HK Magazine: How have you been training for this fight differently?
Manny Pacquiao: We’ve been changing our strategy because our opponent [Chris Algieri] has a very different style than I’m used to. He’s very tall. I believe he is going to use his advantage and move around a lot. He has a lot of reach.
HK: How do you adapt to someone who has such a reach on you?
MP: I have a sparring mate who is a lot taller than my opponent, so this has helped a lot. How to move, take in information, how to counter…
HK: What’s it like fighting in Asia vs the US?
MP: It’s a great thing fighting here, because the people of Asia have a chance to watch the fight live. It’s not easy to get a visa to America. So when we have a fight in Macau, the Filipino people and all of the rest of Asia can come to watch. It’s also great to promote boxing in Asia.
HK: What’s the energy like in Macau compared to Vegas?
MP: It’s different here—because in Macau 90 percent of the fans are cheering for me!
HK: In Macau, you are in the arena by 9am. Do you have time to eat?
MP: I wake up at 5 or 6am and I will eat, and then eat again at 7—breakfast and then a light meal.
HK: If you’re fighting an early morning fight, do you feel nervous the night before?
MP: No, because whenever I enter the arena, even in the morning, it’s night. The bright lights are on, and it’s nighttime in the arena.
HK: Do you think you will ever do the long-talked about Floyd Mayweather Jr.
fight in Macau?
MP: [Laughs] If that fight happens, it is impossible it will be in Macau.
Interjection from Manny’s promoter, Bob Arum: The Mayweather view of the world is that every Asian is the same. Chinese, Filipino, etc. He won’t come into Manny’s backyard.
MP: We can put a ring in his backyard and do a fight there.
HK: You’re also a politician. What lessons have you learned from the ring that apply to the political arena?
MP: The importance of discipline, a hard-working attitude, and quick responses. As a politician, you need to respond quickly to the concerns of the people.
HK: What’s in store for Manny in the next 10 years?
MP: As a congressman, I am proud of my accomplishments in my province; I am satisfied with what I’ve been able to achieve there. Looking forward to the future, if it is God’s will, I’d like to move into higher office. Especially as there is an election coming in 2016…
HK: Why is it so important for China to be promoting boxing?
MP: In America, boxing is a big and well-promoted thing. There are a lot of good boxers in China. When we first started there, the market was much smaller. But now it’s much better. We recently built a boxing academy in Beijing. But there’s still a lot of potential to grow here. And not just China, but all of Asia.
See Manny Pacquiao take on Chris Algieri in the Clash in Cotai II. Nov 23, CotaiArena, The Venetian Macao, Estrada do Istmo, Cotai, 3128-8288. Tickets from $880 at www.hkticketing.com.