Westlife's Nicky Byrne happy just to shake Pacman's hand
Westlife is in the Philippines for their "Gravity Tour 2011" concert at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Thursday. This is the band's fourth concert in the country so far.
Byrne, the oldest Westlife member at 32 years old, made quite a noise among Filipino fans on Twitter not just because of their concert but also because of his public singing invitations to Pacquiao.
A week before Westlife's visit to Manila, Byrne (@nickybyrneoffic), on Twitter, invited Pacquiao to sing with the band.
Byrne tweeted: "@MannyPacquiao Hey Manny, Nicky from Westlife here we doing a show in Manila soon, heard you singing one of our songs in the past, duet soon!"
Pacman responded to Byrne through GMA News reporter Mark Zambrano who was covering his training in Baguio, saying he was open to performing with the band.
Shortly after GMA News put Pacquiao’s response on the Twitter news feed, reactions poured online, making it the most popular tweet that day.
Byrne quickly replied to GMA News on Twitter: “Gonna be amazing! Can I spar with him too?"
Hours later, he sent another tweet: “Hey guys will need to get in touch with Manny’s camp to organize performance if he’s really up for it? Let me know how. Thx N"
Even the fans started sending tweets, begging to help Byrne's sincere and determined request for a duet with Pacquiao.
A few message exchanges later, while Byrne was with the band in Hong Kong as part of their Asian tour, he reached Pacquiao’s camp.
In a Skype interview with GMA News Social Media Team (SMT), Byrne revealed he had been a fan of Pacquiao for four years now.
“He brings boxing to a whole new level. He’s an exceptional fighter," said Byrne.
The 32-year-old Byrne is also a big Sports fan, being an athlete himself; he played professional football for Leeds United in the UK and tells GMA News SMT that he also boxed back in his hometown in Ireland.
“But not in Manny Pacquiao’s level," he said, “I’m probably the biggest Pacquiao fan out of all the Westlife boys."
“When I found out we were going to the Philippines, (I thought that) I would love to meet Manny Pacquiao, and maybe do a duet."
Byrne shared that three years ago, while watching one of Pacquiao’s fight, he saw the pound-for-pound king inside his dressing room singing “You raised me up," one of Westlife’s cover singles, and thought "maybe he’s a Westlife fan."
The idea for a duet, he said, was brought up after a Google search revealed Pacquiao was quite the singer.
“I thought one day I could maybe interview him, meet him, get a photograph with him, do some boxing with him."
Byrne got in touch with Pacquiao’s Secretary and the whole thing was in the works days before the concert, which will be held tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
However, as of posting time, Pacquiao, who is still in Baguio training, said on GMA News TV's "News To Go" on Thursday that his training could not be halted.
"Maganda sana pero may training tayo, hindi puwedeng huminto," (It would have been nice but we can't stop [the training], Pacquiao said.
“Obviously he’s training for a fight, so we understand. I will be disappointed but I understand. If it can happen, it will be incredible, absolutely incredible," said Byrne.
Byrne quipped he will give Pacquiao the free hand to choose the song, if ever, but suggests their 2000 hit, “My Love."
“He can bring his family along. I will be grateful to just shake his hand and get a photo."
Asked if he was willing to drive up to Baguio instead just to meet Pacquiao, Byrne said if not for the tight schedule, he “would love to."
They fly out to Vietnam the next day of their Philippine concert. “If not this time, then definitely next time."
Byrne is not the first international star to express his admiration for Pacquiao.
Among the long list are hotel heiress Paris Hilton, who visited Manila last month in constant company of the Pacquiaos, Jeremy Piven, Steven Baldwin, and even Justin Bieber.
Pacquiao is also no stranger to singing.
During the US leg of the Pacquiao-Marquez World Press Tour, he even sang his popular cover of “Sometimes when we touch" with the original artist, Dan Hill.
Will Westlife be his next duet partners? We'll have to see.
In any case, Byrne said he's looking forward to come back to Manila.
“Philippines has always been really receptive of Westlife and I have to say, you guys are one of the nicest people in the world." - VVP, GMA News