LAS VEGAS — Last Sunday, after church service, Manny Pacquiao filled his empty belly with lunch at Kabuki Japanese Restaurant in Los Angeles.
As usual, he had a sizeable entourage, some 100 happy souls, said a source.
Like Ricky Hatton’s fans back during the amiable Brit’s brawling reign, Pacquiao’s circus travels well.
And they are all here in this patch of desert known for its wretched excess.
But as weigh-in nears, the chaos is muted.
High above the MGM Hotel Casino in The Strip, PacMan is zeroed in, biding idle time by playing chess and taking in a few visitors here and there.
He’s been seen stretching inside the four walls and sprinting at the expansive hallways of his presidential suite.
Standing near the Senator, of course, is a bevy of security personnel ready to pounce.
In a few hours, weigh-in will materialize at the Grand Garden Arena.
But Manny is expected to breeze through that like Sunday morning. “He’ll make weight easy, maybe even two pounds lighter at 145,” says Buboy Fernandez, Manny’s childhood friend and trainer.
Manny hasn’t fought in the U.S. since November 5, 2016, but when he does, he moves the economic meter that results in millions of dollars of revenue for the city of Las Vegas as well as earned money in the pockets of those in the service industry who are enjoying the boom of fight fans spending precious dollars for the weekend.
Though he just turned 40 and duelling a hungry lion 11 years younger, odds makers in this gambling destination pick Pacquiao as a solid minus 280 favorite. You’d have to bet $280 to win $100 on Manny.
Adrien Broner, meanwhile, is a plus 230 underdog. A $100 bet on the loquacious American, himself a four-division champ, will collect a $230 reward.
Selling pay-per-view at a price point of $74.99 is not easy but Broner is doing his part well playing the villain and suffering from verbal diarrhoea as he mouths off against the Filipino icon, revealing how he will bust up Manny and then had the audacity to ask for a drink later.
Tickets are almost sold-out, although some can still be obtained in the secondary market. A quick call at the reservation hotline revealed that the MGM hotel’s 6,852 rooms are fully committed for Saturday night, “more likely because we have a Pacquiao fight,” said a sales represented.
Other cash registers are also ringing like iPhones.
Over at The Art of Music, signed Pacquiao gloves go for $450 a pair. They’re sold-out and can meet the “high demand,” sales consultant Jose Macias told Boxing News and Views.
Asked if Pacquiao’s signature could have been worth more considering his achievements, Macias said that because Pacquiao is so gracious signing stuff for everybody the market is flooded, thus lowering the value.
Still, anything Pacquiao signs is a fan’s dream.
Naturally, the casino is making tons of cash as the dreamers, each yearning for easy money, have made their pilgrimage to the blackjack and crap tables while the many more have chosen to feed the yawning mouth of the slot machines.
Last time we checked, Las Vegas is in America but if you head out to the MGM Grand you’d think it’s a suburb of Manilla given how many Filipino faces you see.
All of them, of course, Pacquiao fans.