Arum wants three more fights for Pacquiao

Promoter Bob Arum has guided Manny Pacquiao's career since 2005. (Getty Images)

Even as "Fighter of the Decade" Manny Pacquiao views the three options given him by Top Rank promoter Bob Arum for a November 10 fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena over the next couple of days, Arum has told us he wants the eight-division world champion to quit after three more fights.

Arum said that in his mind having been in the boxing business for decades, he would like "Any fighter that I handle to get out of the business sooner rather than later and before he starts experiencing punishment."

He said "Ideally I would like three more fights (for Pacquiao), this fight in November and two more next year and that would be 'sayonara' and he can be the public servant he wants to be."

A congressman who represents the lone district of Sarangani province, Pacquiao reportedly plans to switch places with incumbent governor "Migs" Dominguez with Manny running for governor and Dominguez seeking the congressional seat.

The astute promoter indicated he was struck by Pacquiao's humility and desire to help. He said Pacquiao has "a burning desire to help his people do good in the world and that's something we all should applaud."

It's precisely for this reason that Arum made it clear  that he "wouldn't want any injury suffered in boxing to prevent that from happening."

While there has been some debate over whether Pacquiao's seemingly newfound adherence to the scriptures and his Bible study which has turned him into a "preacher man" is as big a plus factor as it is made out to be, Arum said "it's certainly true that it really helped him (get rid of his previously wild ways of gambling and late nights) and it did good for him but he has to also realize that while it had great things for him and while it's great to be religious and study the Bible, not everybody in the world is so inclined and no one wants him to be a missionary."

Asked what he thought of Pacquiao when he first met him before the first fight against Erik "El Terrible" Morales who was, at that time, Arum's prized possession, he said "When I first met him he was on the other side (promoted by Murad Muhammad) and was fighting my Mexican guys."

Arum conceded that at first glance he "thought he (Pacquiao) was extremely interesting, extremely capable, a very exciting  fighter. But it was very hard to communicate with him because in those days he could barely speak English. He has since learned to speak English and now he communicates quite well."

The promoter confessed he "didn't know the depth of the person that he turned out to be. Manny turned out to be a much more interesting person as a human being than I would have imagined."

Arum recalled that he promoted the first Pacquiao fight against Morales at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on March 19, 2005. Pacquiao lost by a unanimous decision with all three judges scoring the  fight 115-113 in favor of Morales after Pacquiao suffered a nasty gash in the fifth round following an accidental head-butt and his vision hampered by blood streaming down his face and into his eye.

Referee Joe Cortez mistakenly signaled the bloody cut was caused by a punch while Manny insisted it was a head-butt and was proven correct when TV replays clearly showed the gash was caused by a clash of heads.

Arum said "then we decided that we would do a rematch and a third Morales fight and it's been upward ever since."

Pacquiao battered Morales to win the rematch by a 10th round TKO on January 21, 2006 and finally ended the trilogy with a rousing 3rd round knockout on November 18, 2006.

Arum remembered that when he came to Manila after he had signed Pacquiao he told everybody "I would make him the iconic fighter in the world."

He said people played it down saying it was the talk of a promoter with bravado but added. "I really believed I could do it. Luckily it happened and we did it and he became even bigger than the sport of boxing."

Arum realized that Pacquiao became a crossover star but clarified that "In order to be a star he would have to be crossover. The Philippines is a big country with the overseas Filipinos, close to 100 million people. But it's still just a fraction of the kind of fan base that we would want and we were able to get Hispanics interested in him, everybody in America became interested in him along with fans all around the world. He became the face of boxing."

Named "Fighter of the Decade" by the prestigious Boxing Writers Association of America, extolled by Ring Magazine as the pound-for-pound king and winner of numerous accolades, Pacquiao translated his status into a financially rewarding career.

While the Filipinos who handled his endorsements were "well-intentioned" Arum indicated "they didn't have the expertise to do it on an international basis." That's when Arum decided to hire Lucia McKelvey who was formerly with IMG — the International Marketing Group — as Top Rank's executive vice president for marketing and she was "able to really bring Manny some tremendous endorsements."

The list includes Hewlett-Packard and Hennessey among others after an initial breakthrough with Nike which, according to adviser Michael Koncz, has more projects lined up in the future.

Koncz pointed out that it was the very first time HP used a boxer as an endorser while Hennessey never used a professional athlete in any of their advertising campaigns.

McKelvey herself told Sports Business Journal that the HP "brand alignment, to us, is unparalleled."

All told, his fights in the ring and his endorsements last year catapulted Pacquiao to the No.2 spot on Forbes list of the 100 highest paid athletes with a $62 million income which was topped only by undefeated Floyd Mayweather, Jr. with  $85 million.

Arum believes a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight could be worked out with Mayweather's close friend and newly registered promoter 50 Cent whom he described as someone who looks like a good businessman.

A Pacquiao-Mayweather fight would surely do big business and is bound to keep both men on top of the Forbes 100 list of pro athletes and should give Pacquiao, whom Arum regards as the face of boxing, a big boost before next May's elections.

Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.

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