By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
"Yes," the boxer says, voice soft, brown eyes downcast, when asked if he worries about the corruption. "There is money in the government. The problem is that it does not reach the people. That is why they are suffering. We need a leader who is sincere and clean to help the country. As long as that leader is truly sincere and truly wants to help, there is hope. I always pray to God that I will be able to help the people."
Could it be so simple? It is never simple.
He felt fine about losing the first election. Not betrayed. Not angry. Just "okay." He says, "It's part of the game. There's a winner, there's a loser. Maybe that was not the right time. Because if I had won, I would not have had big fights like the De La Hoya fight, Hatton fight or Cotto fight." Sitting in the Wild Card's minuscule, bare-bones dressing room, Pacquiao wraps his hands with the white tape. Asked if he wants to be president someday, he smiles. "For now, congressman."
For all his generosity, the fighter needs to win. When he fights, it is said that violence and crime plummet in the Philippines. Killers stop killing. Thieves take a break from stealing. A nation stops to watch. It pulls together, despite itself.
"If that's true, I'd fight every day," says the boxer, already sounding like a leader.
Ask him who is a smarter fighter, Muhammad Ali or Pacquiao, and Roach, who has no wife or children of his own, and who calls Pacquiao his finest work — his "son" — will think for a minute before admitting it is Ali. Ali was more creative. He did everything wrong, but he still won. Pacquiao, however, is a far better student. He does everything right. Pacquiao won't fight after this year, Roach speculates. He has nothing left to prove.
Roach wants something from Pacquiao, too. He wants Pacquiao to get out of boxing while he is still rich, happy and healthy. Most stay at the dance too long.
"Three more rounds," says Pacquiao, bouncing, pounding Roach's mitts.
"What, are you crazy?" says Roach. "I'm tired."
Does Pacquiao ever tire of people asking him for things? "No," the boxer says later. "You have to understand that because you're famous, you're popular, some people are asking for help. It's part of your career."
When he was poor, no one was ever as generous to him as he is with people now. "Because I never asked," he says. "I worked."
Manny Pacquiao defends his WBO welterweight title against Joshua Clottey at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas on March 13.
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city