Boxing fans crowded into Downtown's J Lounge on Friday December 26 to celebrate boxer Manny "PacMan" Pacquiao's win over Oscar De La Hoya at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on December 6.
Filipino sports icon Pacquiao, who turned 30 on December 17, spent most of the event in an upstairs suite that only friends and boxing mafia were allowed to enter. He emerged later for a photo op in the J Lounge courtyard that had paparazzi and fans scrambling to get his picture. Also present were Pacquiao's longtime trainer Freddie Roach (who used to train De La Hoya), Pacquiao's very pregnant wife, Jinky Pacquiao, and Dean "Irish Lightning" Byrne, Pacquiao's sparring partner as he prepared for the De La Hoya match.
Seems like Pacquiao is a people lover with a good heart. After the photo op, the WBC Lightweight Champion waded into the crowd to meet his fans -- mostly young Filipinos -- even as they bore in on him from all sides. Pacquiao dedicated the proceeds from Friday's event to the Blue Diamond Foundation, established this year by activist T. L. Kittle to promote universal U.S. health care.
The greatest boxer in the world: Manny Pacquiao and Dean "Irish Lightning" Byrne, behind the VIP curtain at J Lounge Friday.
Trainer Roach's summation of Pacquiao: "The greatest boxer in the world." Better than Casius? "Yes."
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Says Byrne, a Light Welterweight with a 9-0 record who also trains with Roach: "Train hard, fight easy." Good advice, in and out of the ring.
Pacquiao/De La Hoya Dream Match:
Blue Diamond Foundation: Contact T. L. Kittle, (323) 843-4200.