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‘Boxing is the best’

Pacquiao, who retired from pro boxing last year, arrived at the venue early

The deafening cheers put a smile on Manny Pacquiao’s face when he showed up Sunday night in the initial staging of Blow-by-Blow in Mandaluyong.

Although the fights were held a few kilometers away from where he made a name for himself in the mid-1990s, Pacquiao still flashed his pearly whites as he acknowledged the warm reception that he got from the crowd that trooped to the Mandaluyong City College gymnasium.

Just before the main event, the original ring announcer of Blow-by-Blow — Bobby Mondejar — called Pacquiao to say a few words.

Pacquiao went up to the ring and spoke to the audience and told them how the city embraced him as he was trying to make it big in the world of prizefighting.

Just before he wound up his speech, Pacquiao, who turns 44 on 17 December, called on the people — especially the young ones — to channel their energy to worthwhile activities like sports.

“Boxing is the best,” Pacquiao said as the crowd roared.

“You can play basketball, but boxing is the best.”

Pacquiao, who retired from pro boxing last year, arrived at the venue early.

He stayed until the event was over as he posed for pictures (without masks) and signed some autographs as well.

One guy — Cavite-based sports photographer Alvin Go — went home with a spring in his every step.

A sports card featuring Pacquiao which he bought for around P1,000 a decade ago was finally signed by the boxing legend.

Alvin, who also doubles as a fighter supervisor/representative of a rising boxing body, swears the card is now worth a lot of money.

“It’s the most sought-after kind of card,” Alvin told me at ringside.

But Alvin isn’t selling the card.

I guess that card is going to be kept inside a vault.

Other boxing memorabilia were signed by Pacquiao, who gladly chatted with well-wishers and plain fans.

His security men had a hard time escorting him out of the gym to a waiting black SUV because his fans just kept on coming to pose for selfies and just be right beside him as though he is some fellow who walks on water.

In the end, Pacquiao’s group sped away and the crowd began to go their separate ways.

The night was truly memorable not just for Pacquiao and the organizers of the show led by two-time world champion Gerry Peñalosa.

The night also belonged to Alvin, who was shaking the moment the card was handed back to him.

It was indeed a night to remember.

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