By EDDIE G. ALINEA
GENERAL SANTOS CITY – A little less than two months after going under knife for his shoulder injury that was aggravated during his losing fight with undefeated American Floyd Mayweather Jr., eight-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao looked fast recovering under the rehabilitation program prescribed by his physician.
This as the soon-to-be 37-year-old Sarangani Congressman, in his small little way, through sports and religious undertakings, is even single-handedly succeeding in the process of uniting and and promoting peace among his Christian and Muslim constituents.
Meanwhile, it was reported in Las Vegas that the much-publicized Mayweather-Pacquiao “fight of the century” last May 2 at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada had set a record of $500 million, making both fighters the biggest-earning athletes in the world.
The fight also helped set a record of revenues of over $1 billion in the Las Vegas casinos, almost two years after the $1-bllion record was recorded and the Nevada casino owners and the game control board were pleased with the turnout.
Reports from Las Vegas showed that the casinos were packed with huge crowds and high rollers for the super fight and casinos even raised limits to accommodate big spenders.
Reports from Las Vegas also showed that the super fight also helped set a surge at the McCarran International Airport, which reported nearly 4 million passengers, the most for May since the recession.
also, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said 3.7 million travelers came to town, an all-time monthly record.
The fight also helped boost sports betting. “Other” bets that include boxing but not football, basketball, baseball and horse racing, hit a record total of $81.2 million wagered and $8.2 million won by casinos.
Daily, for almost a month now, no less than a thousand Christian and Muslim highland residents along the town of Tinonto in Sarangani gather from Monday to Friday at the Pacquiao-owned Pacman Beach Resort to engage in friendly competitions in a project the former World Boxing Organization welterweight belt-owner “Bring Me” program, close associates David Sisson and Benjamin “Choy” Garcia attested.
“The project is kinda sports-religious affair wirh attendees, both Christians and Muslims, engzged themselves in several sporting competitions like basketball, volleyball, chess, billiards, darts and even scrabble, tug-of-war, palo sebo and several more everyday,” Sisson, Pacquiaos’s Man Friday, said in an interivew Thursday.
“After the sports competitions, susundan ng Bible Study with both Christians and Muslims in attendance,” Garcia, the former world fyweight, super-bantamweight, featherweight, super-featherweight, lightweight, junior-welterweight, welterweight and supr-welterweight titlist’s close in security, butted in.
“Napakaganda ng event kasi makikita mo ang ang akala ng marami ay magkakaaway na Muslim at Kristiyano ay sama-samang naglalaro,” chief security Caloy Homo, for his part said. “At nagbabasa pa ng bibliya.”
“Masaya lahat ng participants na umuuwi may premyo,” Garcia added. “Hindi lamang mga winner and may uwing gift package at cash.”
The daily affair, according to Sisson, is called “Bring Me” because attendees and participants are required to recite Bible verses and interpret them.
“The event, besides uniting our people and providing an opportunity to gain peace in the province, likewise, affords me a chance to dip into the sea water na nakakatulong sa madaling paggaling ng injury ko,” Pacquiao himsellf told this writer in a separate interview at his posh Forbes Park residence in Makati City.
The “Fighter of the Decade” honoree of the Boxing Writers Association of America was operated on for torn rotator cuff by known bone and muscle specialist, Dr. Neil ElAttrache of the Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles days following his unanimous decision defeat to Mayweather on May 2 in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao suffered the injury weeks before what was dubbed s “Fight of the Century” while training at his trainer Freddie Roach-owned Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, recovered in the course of his preparations but recurred during wild exchanges in the fourth round of the encouner.
“It’s healing, slowly and surely,” Pacquiao said in the same interview a day after coaching Team Kia to an 88-85 win over Meralco, ending the Carnival’s first season stint in the professionl Philippine Basketbll Association.
“I have aleady removed the sling in my right arm three weeks axgo and i can lift it na ng pakonti-konti. “I think mga two mnth pa, fully recovered na at uwde nang mag-ensayo muli, he said with a chuckle”
Pacquiao asserted though that there is no plan yet as to when he will return fighting, saying, “ang focus ko ngayon ay pagalingin ang balikat ko. When it is completely cured, saka na natin pagpasiyahan ang paglaban muli.”
He also did not reveal his plans for next year’s elections where he has been reported to be eyeing a senate post. “It’s still too early for that. Marami pang dapat gawin sa kongreso na isa sa mga pinagtutuunan ko ng pansin ngayon.”