By Nick Giongco
With plenty of spare time, boxing’s pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao made a surprise visit to a place in Metro Manila which holds a special place in his heart. On Thursday afternoon, coming from appearing on a TV noontime variety show, Pacquiao motored to Malabon during a pouring rain and fulfilled a commitment that he made to somebody close to his heart. Lounell Correa, son of the late Malabon construction magnate Leopold ‘Polding’ Correa, told the Bulletin that Pacquiao dined in their sprawling property from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. and “relived the good old days” in the company of lawyer Jeng Gacal and Canadian associate Mike Koncz.
Pacquiao was managed by the elder Correa from 1995 until 1999 and it was during that time that the once-skinny General Santos native honed his skills under the care of Correa and the management team then headed by Rod Nazario.
Correa was still the fighter’s manager when he became a world champion for the first time in Dec. 1998 in Bangkok where Pacquiao captured the World Boxing Council flyweight title with a vicious one-punch knockout of Chatchai Sasakul.
The Correas remained close with Pacquiao even after their separation and the father-and-son tandem even had the opportunity to watch Pacquiao fight and defeat Erik Morales in their rubber match in Nov. 2006 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The senior Correa passed away in Nov. 2007 and Pacquiao grieved over the death of his very first caretaker.
Meanwhile, the young Correa said Pacquiao looks poised to face Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico on Nov. 14 even though contracts have yet to be signed by both parties.
While Pacquiao politely declined to answer questions about his next fight, Correa observed that the planned showdown at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas will take place as scheduled.
The camps of Pacquiao and Cotto want different catch weights with the former insisting that the fight out to be at 143 lbs, while the latter batting that it be staged at 145 lbs.
“Manny even invited me and my mother to watch the fight (at ringside),” said Correa.
After dining with the Correas, Pacquiao left for the Embassy, the trendy bar at Fort Bonifacio, to attend the birthday of a friend.
On Friday, Pacquiao was back shooting commercials, according to close ally Wakee Salud.
“He’s shooting a commercial for Head and Shoulders (shampoo),” said Salud.
It is expected that details of the planned Cotto fight will be finalized in the next few days with the arrival of Top Rank chief Bob Arum from a European vacation.