Manny Pacquiao holds media workout at Hollywood's Wild Card.
In the past few years the tiny Hollywood shopping mall at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine has changed in ways that are at first imperceptible.
The ancient washers and dryers at the laundromat directly under Freddy Roach's Wild Card Gym have not yet ceasesed to hum away. Nor have the abundant signs of poverty in the neighborhood that surround the Wild Card disappeared. Make shift sleeping quarters can be found in many of the alleys near this intersection. Still, this tiny shopping center on Hollywood and Highland has found a new source of fame and fortune.
Still the signs of change are plastered everywhere, literally. The humble shops of the shopping mall: from the massage and nail place to Nat's Thai Food restaurant are covered in images of Hollywood's brightest new star: Manny Pacquiao.
The shopping center has embraced their adopted son whose gym is also located within the shopping complex. As a result a legion of boxing fans and Filipino tourists make the area an obligatory stop on any trip to Hollywood.
In the aforementioned Nat's Thai Food restaurant, Manny Pacquiao is everywhere. There are images of him on the walls and even a photo of him in the kitchen, in the kitchen. Posters of Pacquiao's dart tournament and Pacquiao's film career are plastered on every window like they are on all the neighbouring shops.
What does the champ order? "Salmon, the Salmon, and the Beef Soup." The staff tells me. One has time to ponder menu options and other frivolities when Manny Pacquiao,
the man of the hour shows up an hour late to his own media workout.
Members of the Manny entourage where more prompt. Trainer Freddy Roach, the owner of the Wild Card Gym and promoter Bob Arum where there to answer media questions an hour or so before Manny Pacquiao arrived. If your Tagalog was sharp enough Beboy (Manny's lifelong friend) and Bobby Pacquiao were also there to talk frankly about all topics.
Manny's good nature and humor are present from the moment he arrives. His smile is always present. Manny Pacquiao has become the greatest pound for pound boxer in part because his good head movement has made him a frustrartingly elusive opponent. Here he is anything but elusive making himself available to every camera and every fan in the parking lot.
Walking up the stairs and entering the Wild Card Gym he even playfully kicks chief assistant trainer Micheal Moorer. Manny's charm forces everyone to smile even on this the saddest day of the year: tax day.
For the hundred or so members of the media and entourage the air in the Wild Card, always stagnant became nearly unbearable as Pacquiao begins to warm up. Somehow though Manny's goodwill puts everyone at ease. When Manny enters the ring and the cameras start flashing, he shows a quickness of punches and shortness of words.
What round would he knock out Hatton? "Only God knows that but, if there is a knockout I will take it." Manny responds with a smile.
Luckily Freddy Roach was there and told thefightcoutdown.com that Manny would knockout out Ricky Hatton in less than 5 rounds. Two days earlier Roach had taken Pacquiao into the deep end of training. The Filipino Destroyer had trained seventeen rounds straight without a moments rest.
"Pacman" looked as if he could of gone seventeen more rounds today as Freddy Roach got in the ring and worked the mitts with Pacquiao for several rounds. Manny's punches sizzled off the mitts. The speed of his punches beat the flashbulbs of the dozens of cameras pointed at him.
There is no doubt Manny Pacquiao will be faster than Ricky Hatton during their "Battle of East and West" on May 2 and one has to wonder if he would not be faster than Floyd Mayweather Jr. If the two should ever meet in the ring.