LOS ANGELES - “Malapit na. Magkakaalaman na. Ninenerbiyos na sila! Atin na to!”
That was the voice of Manny Pacquiao reverberating on a cool spring morning at Bronson Park as the Filipino boxing hero was wrapping up a two-hour morning run and workout before throngs of his kababayans.
Asked about it later, Pacquiao declined to address the statements directly at Floyd Mayweather Jr., but members of his entourage gave knowing nods certain to who these are for.
“Sa akin motivation lang 'yun. (Pero tingin ko) kinakabahan na rin sila (Mayweather), pati mga tao tingin ko kinakabahan na,” the hard-punching congressman from Sarangani province told Spin.ph.
One thing Pacquiao wants to put on record is that he will come in as the toughest and most dangeours opponent the flamboyant Mayweather has ever come across in an unbeaten 47-fight career.
“Siguro (ako nga). Kasi sanay tayo makipaglaban sa mga undefeated at mas eksperiyensyado tayo sa kanya,” he said.
Asked if he can come in as a better version of Zab Judah, who exposed Mayweather’s weaknesses against southpaws with his terrific right jabs in a 2006 fight, Pacquiao said he aspires to be even better.
“Hindi ko lang siya bibigyan ng matinding hamon, kundi maipapanalo natin ang fight. Kasi kung magbibigay lang tayo ng matinding hamon, tagilid tayo,” he said.
Asked if Mayweather’s propensity to degrade Pacquiao and his achievements serves as added motivation, the ever-diplomatic fighter only smiled.
“Hindi mo kailangang mainis, just stay happy. Enjoy your life, enjoy what you are doing. Wala naman tayong (masamang tinapay) basta sa ibabaw ng ring may role tayo na dapat gagampanan,” said Pacquiao.
His overriding motivation, Pacquiao said, is a desire to bring honor to the country.
“Magbibigay ng dagdag na honor ito sa bansa natin, kailangan 'yan para sa Pilipino at boxing fans,” he said.
Pacquiao’s Friday morning run was supposed to be held at Griffith Park, but dozens of fans crowding his jogging route as well as his workout area near the Observatory forced handlers to move it to Bronson Park.
“Kailangang ilipat. Madaming tao sa kabila. Malakas ang intelligence ng mga fans. Alam kung saan tatakbo si Manny,” said Pacquiao’s longtime assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez.
But that did not stop fans from trooping to the wildlife preservation area near Hollywood Hills, where Pacquiao was in a bright mood and even cracked jokes with the crowd.
“O heto, what is your favorite color? Fuchsia Pink? Spell Fuchsia Pink. Red na lang,” Pacquiao cracked as the crowd around him laughed.