Pacquiao marches on as true star of boxing

The fight was long over and most of the biggest crowd to see a

fight in the U.S. in 17 years had found their way out of massive

Cowboys Stadium. Manny Pacquiao was in the shower, where one member

of his entourage surely was in charge of selecting his shampoo

while another had the task of making sure the towels were just

right.

Pacquiao had easily disposed of a timid Joshua Clottey, and now

he had a concert to perform. He finally emerged in an argyle

sweater that would have looked better on the golf course and

sunglasses more suited for the beach, with the entourage swelling

about him, each jockeying for position in case he could be the

lucky one chosen to fluff Pacman’s rice for him.

There was only a few minutes to talk about Floyd Mayweather Jr.

and his run for congress in the Philippines in May. The postfight

party awaited, and once more the star was ready to perform.

“The first song I’m going to sing is `La Bamba,”’ Pacquiao

said.

It’s a good time to be Manny Pacquiao, and Texas proved to be a

good host to the hottest fighter around. Nearly 51,000 made their

way into the edifice built by Jerry Jones to watch him fight

Saturday night and few seemed to leave disappointed, even if

Clottey’s reluctance to mix it up deprived them of a spectacular

fight.

The win was about as easy as they come, with Pacquiao capturing

every round on one judge’s scorecard and all but one on the other

two. By the time they count all the pay-per-view receipts he’ll

probably head home at least $15 million richer, and he didn’t have

to put up with Mayweather’s antics to make another huge payday.

The fight that never was may still happen, perhaps in November,

perhaps at Cowboys Stadium. Pacquiao made it clear he still wants

it, and both his trainer and promoter seem to want it even more

badly than the fighter himself.

“We will crush him,” trainer Freddie Roach said.

It wasn’t an idle boast, and it wasn’t a way to hype the fight

because it doesn’t need hyping. Before it fell apart over

Mayweather’s insistence on blood testing, the bout was supposed to

have taken place Saturday night and likely would have been the

richest ever in boxing.

But Mayweather must first now get past a fight of his own, a May

1 bout against Shane Mosley that may be his toughest yet. And

promoter Bob Arum made it clear that there will be no negotiations

this time around about any sort of blood testing no matter how much

Mayweather might try to raise the point.

“That was a stupid mistake I made by playing Neville

Chamberlain and negotiating this issue,” Arum said, drawing an

analogy that only a boxing promoter could. “You don’t negotiate.

You don’t appease. Chamberlain negotiated with Hitler on Munich and

look what happened.”

History lesson aside, there clearly isn’t any need for

Pacquiao’s camp to bend on the issue. Any thought that Mayweather

diminished his popularity when he insinuated Pacquiao must be

juiced to have won titles from 112 to 147 pounds evaporated when

they opened the doors at Cowboys Stadium and throngs of people

poured in hours early for the party.

And a party was what it was, despite Clottey’s attempt to

preserve his boxing future by spending long stretches of time in

the ring holding his gloves in a peek-a-boo style to avoid getting

hit. Pacquiao did the best he could to force the issue, throwing

punch after punch after punch – more than 1,200 in all – but if a

fighter goes into the ring just to survive the odds are good he

will do just that.

Someone who managed to get a microphone at the postfight press

conference congratulated Clottey for making it through 12 rounds,

and asked him what his secret for success was.

“Manny Pacquiao is beating everybody,” Clottey said. “He’s

knocking them out. I have to do what I can and I think I did my

best.”

Arum didn’t seem to mind that he had just paid someone $2

million to go into a shell. This was a party, after all, and the

fight was secondary.

`What was he supposed to do?” Arum said. “If he played offense

he’d get knocked out.”

This was a freebie for Pacquiao, and one he had probably earned.

It’s hard to blame him for having an opponent just trying to stay

upright, not after what he did to Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton

and Miguel Cotto in his previous three fights.

This, apparently, is what it has come to with Pacman. No longer

just content to beat fighters he’s now a 145 3/4 pounds of sheer

intimidation, kind of a junior Mike Tyson who takes on his business

with a smile instead of a scowl.

He’s so good that a very good and veteran practicer of the sweet

science decided that it was better to survive intact than go down

in a blaze of glory. So good that there wouldn’t be any question

about his place on boxing’s hierarchy if there wasn’t this

annoyance named Floyd Mayweather.

So good that the only worry in his camp is that he will actually

win a seat in congress back home and not fight anymore.

“He’s probably going to win the election,” Arum said. “But

that’s all right because if their congress is anything like ours,

they don’t do anything anyway.”

The glow of his latest win had even his tough guy trainer

speaking fondly about the fighter he has helped transform a tough

sport.

“I’m just happy to be a part of Manny Pacquiao’s life,” Roach

said.

He’s not alone. Just ask the guy lucky enough to be chosen to

fluff his rice.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated

Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org