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Manny Pacquiao

Pinoy and American sports legends pick Pacquiao over Mosley

May 7, 2011 10:09pm

Las Vegas - Athletes know athletes. There's a connection between combatants that transcends nationalities, disciplines, eras and circumstances. It is, therefore, a substantial compliment when formerly proud, proud competitors - one is a Tower of Power, the other is American baseball's beloved Iron Man - become fans of boxing's 5'6" force of nature.

Outside the MGM Grand Garden Arena, moments after the official weigh-in for the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley bout, fans try to track down the stars. Stars like Juan Manuel Marquez, who is here on a television assignment. Or they ask Bella Gonzalez, Mosley's girlfriend, for her autograph. Or, like many Filipino fight fans, they gently poke the arms of bald, hulking, 6'6" former 2-time PBA Most Valuable Player and ask him, "Benjie, Benjie, pwede pa-picture?"

Benjie Paras is in Las Vegas to watch a mega-fight, support the lead-star of GMA's weekly comedy "Show Me The Manny", and, cheer for a friend. Together with "Show Me The Manny" co-star Paolo Contis, Benjie is on the Pacman pilgrimage. They visit Pacquiao's suite in Mandalay Bay, stand by Pacquiao's side at the official weigh-in when Manny tipped the scales at 145, and will join the thousands who expect Pacquiao to win over Mosley on Saturday night here.

"Mananalo si Manny sa laban. Sigurado na 'yun," Paras, the only player in PBA history to win MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season, proclaims. "Pero kung minsan, masyado mabait si Manny. Naaawa kasi yan sa kalaban. So mas maganda mag-ingat pa rin siya."

500 meters away from the MGM Grand Garden Arena, lounging near the Signature Tower, a very familiar face appears. I instantly recognize the amiable face, the blue eyes, the workman's shoulders, and the arms of a Hall of Fame Major League Baseball shortstop. A voice calls him, "Hey Cal!" My suspicion is confirmed. Las Vegas; what a town. Pacquiao, Mosley and Cal Ripken, Jr. all in one vicinity. Unreal.

I watched Ripken break a streak many thought was impossible to break live on television way back September 6, 1995. Ripken played 2,131 consecutive games to break the old streak set by legendary New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig. 2,131 consecutive games, through fevers, migraines, aching shoulders, painful knees, bad days, long seasons. Ripken, who spent all his 21 years as a major leaguer with the Baltimore Orioles, knows what drives winners to win.

"Pacquiao is a great fighter. He's awesome to watch. He should win the fight," Ripken says. "Mosley will have a tough time dealing with Pacquiao. Age will make a difference. I was able to play 'til I was 40 but you know, baseball is very different from boxing."

Athletes know athletes. So Paras and Ripken both choose Pacquiao. Paras used the 1989 PBA season to display his phenomenal youth. Ripken transformed 1995 into the year baseball honored Cal Junior's longevity. They look at Pacquiao and Mosley. Who's younger? Who will last 12 rounds? Who's better? Who will win? Benjie and Cal know their stuff. They are legends. They confidently announce their picks. Driven by the kinship of all competitors, they highlight the advantages of Manny Pacquiao and trust they will be too much for the opponent to handle. Because athletes know athletes. Because winners know winners. -- OMG, GMA News




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