LAS VEGAS – The bond between Manny Pacquiao and Buboy Fernandez is so strong that it was his childhood friend whom the boxing superstar first looked for the moment he regained consciousness after being knocked out cold inside the ring on Saturday night (Sunday, Manila time).
“Boy, 'san ka?” were the very first words Pacquiao uttered, according to Fernandez, when he finally came to his senses as he lay face down on the mat minutes after being dropped like a log by a solid Juan Manuel Marquez counter right in the sixth round of their welterweight showdown at the MGM Grand.
As the boxing great recognized his close pal, Fernandez took out Pacquiao's mouthpiece to enable him to breathe easily. Pacquiao then peppered his pal with one question after another.
“Ano nangyari?” asked the fallen boxer. “Tapos na ang laban?”
To which a teary-eyed Fernandez replied amidst the wild celebration inside the ring by the Marquez camp, “Oo, nasingitan tayo, brod.”
Fernandez had been there with Pacquiao from the start, from the time they were teens struggling to find their luck in the Big City, all the way to becoming one of the most successful tandems in big-time boxing.
As his close friend lay motionless on the canvas, Buboy only wanted to be there for Manny.
“Pikit talaga ang mata niya,” he vividly remembered. “Pero nung niluwagan na yung shorts niya, yung sapatos niya, tapos gumalaw na siya, alam ko hindi siya gaano nasaktan.
“Pinapatabi ako nung mga ringside doctors, pero wala akong pakialam. Sabi ko kaibigan ko ito, ako ang aalalay dito,” he recalled of the heart-tugging moment as he tried to help Pacquiao get on his stool.
Fernandez admitted Pacquiao got a little bit reckless that allowed Marquez to knock him down twice – first in the third round with a looping right, and the second and final time on a killer blow in the sixth.
“Naka-buka kasi,” he said.
But like his boyhood chum, Buboy doesn’t want to take anything away from Marquez, saying, 'No question. Gabi ni Marquez `yun.”