by Nick Giongco
LAS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao was so busy and preoccupied that he had to be spoon-fed by wife Jinkee to free up his hands and sign documents and other pertinent papers on Sunday afternoon, roughly 18 hours after scoring a landmark win at the MGM Grand.
Around him was a high-profile Filipino politician and his family and a few of his aides who hurriedly stepped in and outside his suite at the Skylofts of the MGM Grand for their boss is scheduled to fly back to the Philippines on a private jet in a couple of hours.
When he had finished, Pacquiao briefly spoke with a visiting scribe who was hopping on a bus headed for Los Angeles around the same time, declaring that he will sit out 2019 and target a fight sometime in February or March next year.
“It was a hard fight,” Pacquiao said, his left eye a bit puffy, a result of countless hits from Thurman’s head-snapping rights.
“Napalaban ako (I really got into a fight),” he said. “That’s a real fight. Candidate for fight of the year.”
It was indeed an action-packed and seesaw battle especially from rounds sixth to the 12th where Pacquiao, even at 40 years old, defied age by carving out a split decision before 14,356 fans at the Grand Garden Arena.
Thanks to a first-round knockdown that had the crowd on its feet, Pacquiao got the nod of two of the three judges at ringside on the strength of the Filipino legend’s strong showing in the tenth round when he almost put Thurman away with a vicious body shot.
Asked about Thurman’s success in piling up big points in the sixth and seventh and 11th and 12th, Pacquiao insists that he relaxed a bit and Thurman simply took advantage of the situation.
“Sinamantala nya. Gusto ko sya timingan. Pumuntos sya (He exploited it. I was timing my punches. (He earned points there),” he said, referring to the heavy shots that he absorbed, mostly from Thurman’s right hand.
“Heavy-handed,” Pacquiao said, stressing that Thurman packed dynamite on his fists.
With two wins under his belt in 2019, Pacquiao bared that he will dedicate the remaining five months of the year to his work at the Senate before planning his ring return in the first quarter of 2020.
By the time Pacquiao resurfaces, he would already be 41 years old as his birthday falls on Dec. 17.
Pacquiao smiled when reminded of his age by the time he gets into the ring again.