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Wynn, Loose, or Drawn to Perfection: Manny’s Big Night Goes On

BY Phil Woolever ON February 13, 2006
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LAS VEGAS– Manny Pacquiao hit the jackpot after Erik Morales hit the canvas.

The Filipino’s astounding mix of payoff punches accumulated into one of the most dramatic, defining victories in recent years. It also set the corner post stage for a very lucrative future. After years of paying the old duke out dues in everything from tutorial prelims to courtroom management mud holes, Pacquiao is finally set to cash in big.

“Before, I was just a left-handed boxer,” said Pacquiao, “Now I will be bringing both hands.”

He’s going to need them both to haul away all the rewards rolling his way.

The main point for Manny is this time it looks like he’ll see most of the profit go into his own pocket. Previous financial details are incomplete – and who knows who’s business? – but there have already been rulings that indicate what Pacquiao said about depressing distractions had plenty of foundation.

The positive effects of Pac-mania snowballed with no end in sight. New recruits turned Pacquiao’s fan club parade into an extended bandwagon train. Maybe they should switch from a cart to a cargo aircraft.

Pacquiao was listed at earning two million dollars for facing Morales. That’s the biggest paycheck of his career, but not for long. The amount could be doubled when all is said and done for third Morales installment, which promoter Bob Arum says is a “done deal” for September 16 at Sam Boyd Stadium, which could accommodate over 40,000 fans.

News from his homeland had Pacquiao signing a mega deal endorsement package with San Miguel, said to be Southeast Asia’s largest food and beverage company. Besides plenty of moolah, the deal includes a big insurance policy.

Pacquiao’s sailing wasn’t completely smooth as word of a palimony type suit went global. Welcome to the big time.

After subscription numbers for the broadcast were announced at well over 350,000 buys, there wasn’t much question whether Pacquiao can hold up his end of a pay per view show.

There were plenty of off camera delights and debacles all the way from the skywalk elevated intersection at Wynn Casino and Treasure Island to the pavement outside Thomas and Mack, where boxing’s version of a tailgate party, we’ll call it the front seat chug, was in full swing.

 Much of the glitzy chaos is biz as usual in Vegas, but inside the arena the noise level was louder than we can remember.

Whether or not Pacquiao’s faithful followers bellied up to the bar or the blackjack table with as much cash gusto is unknown, but there is a carryover effect of creating a marketable scene. Pacquiao fans definitely make his fights a special event, even with as many fights as Vegas has seen. Pacquiao is probably as big a draw as anybody in the sport right now. Maybe bigger.

The folks at Wynn got over any disappointment from the cancelled Vitali Klitschko – Hasim Rahman affair, and currently have the resort casino’s logo on ring post photos of perhaps the year’s best fight already.

If the Filipino fans lived up to their high spirited reputation at the betting counter and dropped cash like they represented their man on fight night, Wynn resort has to be pretty pleased. That seems to be the case since it was announced during fight week that the posh hotspot would put its moniker on the upcoming contest between Floyd Mayweather, Jr and Zab Judah on April 8th.

Despite Judah losing to Carlos Baldomir the casino polled high rollers, who basically approved the contest by saying they’d come to see it. Who says the consumer in boxing don’t get no say? As long as you’re a sporting whale chomping casino chip plankton, that is.

Up the Strip from Mirage’s volcano, there was another trial by fire, this time. With multi lingual, cheerful but demanding hordes of international press and the first big fight under the new Wynn banner, Steve Flynn Enterprises handled public relations with first class aplomb.  Flynn has worked with Andy Olsen of Magna Media and standard-setting Mandalay Bay, who worked with Deborah Munch at Caesars in the glorious metal shed “Sports Pavilion” days. That’s the PR equivalent of AJ Liebling’s connection to fistic history by the progression of punches traced back to Jem Mace.

Next up for SFE is another premier promotion from Top Rank at the Aladdin/Planet Hollywood on February 18th featuring Antonio Margarito and Brian Viloria. Viloria was greeted warmly by Filipino fans, and he provided live radio fight commentary on a Pacquia0 – Morales broadcast back to that region.

With live ticket prices from 50 to 500 smackers, the Pacquiao – Morales undercard appeared weak by optimal pay per view standards, but everything turned out AOK for both customers and promoters by the time prelims wrapped.

Martin Castillo took another step toward bigger recognition with a brutal split decision victory in a world-class brawl against Alexander Munoz. Just like Jorge Arce and Hussein Hussein before the first Morales – Pacquiao contest, they put on a great show that was completely overshadowed by a fantastic main event.

Castillo is a reason that more and more people show up for the undercard these days in Vegas, that and the fact just watching the stands fill up is a show in itself. Castillo may end up with bigger, co-starring roles on the Mayweather – Judah and Pacquiao-Morales III cards.

Top prospect Juan Manuel Lopez displayed great fundamental potential as he dismantled Jose Luis Caro in the first of a scheduled six rounds. He’s already strong enough for many ten-round fighters.

“The first TV fight sucked,” said Arum of Jose Luis Zertuche’s dull bout against Kelly Pavlik substitute Marcos Primera, “After that it got pretty good.”

It got better than that. By the end of the evening, it was one of the most crowd-pleasing cards Thomas and Mack had seen in a while, and set a high local standard for the year’s overall entertainment roster.

Everybody went into the chilly night, singing. They were singing “Viva Las Vegas.” They were singing about the fights.

Team Pacquiao is looking at an early summer contest in the Philippines prior to meeting Morales again. When he returns to the Neon City next time, Pacquiao should find his Wynn penthouse like an adoring second home.

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