Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pacquiao/Marquez Los Angeles Press Conference

After a self made, man-fulfilling steak and egg breakfast and a 20-minute strengthening workout, I trekked, for the second time this year, to the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset in Los Angeles for a Manny Pacquiao press conference. Sitting in bumper to bumper traffic through most of my journey with the odometer hitting upwards of 90 plus degrees, (it would hit 109 before the day was done) I was happier than ever to reach my destination and receive a valet ticket and jump inside the plush hotel. With oodles of time before the conference even began, I found myself on a couch listening to the new Jay-Z/Kanye West album as I watched the circus begin. Some of the main players were already in plain view as Nacho Beristain held court in the lobby. Freddie Roach was flanked by HBO crews, no doubt supplying footage for Roach’s soon to be reality series set for a 2012 release, Marquez strolled by to talk to his trainer before going into hiding until the conference began, and actor and ‘Entourage’ producer Mark Wahlberg walked back and forth, hoping to make himself part of the Pac Man’s entourage, but to no avail. He evidently hasn’t heard of ‘Pacquiao Time’, as most in Pacquiao’s groups knows all too well. Manny isn’t here yet, Marky Mark. I stepped out briefly and watched as WWE wrestler ‘The Miz’ rolled up to the front. His PR person was standing next to me, and the wrestler hopped out of his chauffeured ride, walked up and asked him bluntly, “What the hell am I doing here?” His PR walked him in and said he would go over things. More on the Miz later in this story. I checked in and walked down to the ballroom area of the hotel, which was a great relief because the hotel’s ‘Rodeo’ room is small and at ground level where the days heat was, and it was just as hot in Hollywood as it is in my humble surroundings of the Inland Empire. I stood and chatted with Maxboxing’s dynamic duo of Steve Kim and Gabriel Montoya while we waited to enter the grand ballroom, which was a lovely, wide spread room with a rose tipped chandelier. Smart media typed run towards the tables first to get premium seating, then to the food spread. I secured my location with a pretty much 50-yard line view of the dais then approached the food. Once again, I was faced with numerous types of spread to place on my gourmet turkey burger. “Oh no, Mr. Horseradish, you’re not getting me again. Fool me once,” I said to myself as I was yet again faced in a situation where there was sinus clearing condiments on hand to fool me, like they did at the last press conference I attended in Beverly Hills for the Pacquiao/Mosley fight. (At that conference, I applied generous portion of white/yellow looking spread that immediately made my eyes water and my nose run just as promoter Bob Arum walked by my table and gave a gentlemanly head-nod as I tried diligently not to sneeze, cough, throw up or worse.) I wisely selected the most American looking, bright yellow spread I could find and proceeded to the hawk-like waitered tables, where your tea never runs dry and the hell if any opened sugar packets see the light of day on a table for more than a few seconds after opening. Now, the burgers in this semi-nice joint in the 90210 are generally the best food they have to offer. Not today. What outdid the ‘gooble-gooble’ burgers was the ‘piece de resistance’ as I told writer/friend Igor Frank, a divine mix of noodles and cheese that us small types call ‘macaroni and cheese’. I’m sure 90210 residents have a luxurious name for the side dish, but hey, they say tomato’, I say tomato. The second best item up for grabs is what I dubbed ‘the bottomless passion tea’. It’s a higher end tea, which I happen to love as a tea drinker. Top Rank head Bob Arum opened the show by announcing that the November 12 fight was a sell out, and tickets were being sold at high premiums by those websites who love to make as much as they can above the original price of the ticket. Freaking ticket vultures. The fighters were announced with a cool, pre-taped introduction using the voice of Michael Buffer, as Marquez made his way first to the podium, and the Mexican great dressed sharply, suited out in a black two piece, followed by Buffer’s intro for Pacquiao, and the Pac Man dressed in his best ‘Brett Favre’ outfit; some blue Lee’s and a white collared shirt. Did he shoot a jean commercial on Sunset before the press conference began or what? Arum then invited WWE wrestler The Miz to the front of the line, and the charismatic young gun took to the microphone and told a story that when he told his parents he was going to the press conference and Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez were going to be there, they asked him to take pictures and grab autographs. He said he himself is in the entertainment business, and his parents have never asked HIM for any memorabilia! Ouch. Aren’t your parents supposed to be your number one fans? ‘Miz man’ closed in style by giving each fighter some of his shirts with his slogan on it, and screamed into the mic, “You guys, as well as myself, are truly Awesome!” Arum would also touch on the hotly debated weight issue heading into fight night at the MGM Grand. A catch-weight of 144 was agreed to for the third installment of Pacquiao/Marquez, which pundits agree favors the bigger man in Pacquiao. “They both have to make the 144 mark. Look, Manny isn’t a middleweight. It’s not like Manny is going to make the 144 mark at the weigh-in, and weigh 160 on fight night.” On a personal note, being mere inches from both warriors during interviews, it’s hard to argue that weight is going to be an issue once the bell rings. Both of these guys stand tiny at a mere five-feet-nothing and a walking around weight similar to that of a junior high student. Then it was trainer time. As announced, both fighters were flanked by their trainers, and recent Hall of Fame inductee Beristain was up first. Nacho thanked the press for their attendance, then proceeded to talk faster than his interpreter for the day, Zanfer Promotions own Fernando Beltran. Nacho stated that the first two Pac/Marquez battles will never be forgotten, and the third edition will be the best of the trilogy. The bell rang, and each corner was given seconds to rest on the stool before the next round started and fellow HOF trainer Freddie Roach took to the stand to offer his best verbal swings. Roach was his casual self in jeans and a shirt and relayed that training will begin in the Philippines and then move to Hollywood for the finishing touches. “I think I have a challenge in Nacho Beristain, and I have a great student in Manny Pacquiao.” Roach’s close-line (Miz type reference) regarding the fight was simply, “don’t miss it.” Another rest period ensued, and it was then time for fighter speeches. Marquez went first, (which is odd being that he is a counter puncher by nature). Arum had introduced Marquez the greatest counter puncher in the game, and touched lightly on when ‘Dinamita’ fought Floyd Mayweather in September 2009. Marques put on a lackluster effort, suffering a knockdown and lopsided decision loss. Arum had his opinions on that though. “Of course he looked bad against Mayweather. Mayweather is a defensive fighter. Maybe a genius,” was Arum’s choice of words when pronouncing that the Pac/Marquez fight will be a better showing simply by Marquez facing a more offensive minded opponent in Pacquiao. “Good morning, good afternoon, good night. I don’t know what time it is!,” Marquez told the media. The four-city, three country press tour was already making its impression on the fighter as they already hit stops in the Philippines, followed by New York before hitting the B.H. Hotel in Los Angeles. Good thing for Marquez is the tour makes its last stop tomorrow in his native Mexico. No word on if Pacquiao plans anymore singing as he did during the New York version of the tour. Come on, just a few notes from “Sometimes When We Touch!” Marquez said he has been working hard on his speed and strength in training camp, and closed by dedicating the fight to his father-in-law, who passed away a few months ago. Another rest period ensued, and then it was the Congressman’s time. Arum made numerous over and above introductions of Manny as not only the pound for pound best boxer but the “greatest athlete in the world” and a dozen other monikers for his fighter, and all of them were hard to argue against. Simply put, at this present time, Pacquiao is an international superstar. Look it up, it’s in the Geneva Conventions. (Will Ferrell reference) The Pac Man thanked all the sponsors and his supporters in a gingerly manner while telling the press that he is training hard and knows Marquez is as well. Pacquiao himself is not remiss of the fact that his two previous efforts in the ring against Marquez are looked at and debated almost as much as a potential dream match between himself and Mayweather are. “This (fight) is the answer of all the doubts of the last two fights against Marquez,” said Pacquiao. The circus ensued with the fighter ‘nose to nose’ ‘I don’t smile and you don’t smile’ stare downs, followed by one on one interviews and a closing to yet another great It was almost too bad that I went from eating gourmet burgers and bottomless passion tea in a plush Beverly Hills hotel, only to tip the valet a buck, (hey, I’m sure that the Ferrari that pulled out in front of me tipped a solid 20-bill or above) and get on the freeway in 100+ degree heat to make my journey home. Oh well. Such is life on the press beat. Thank the Lord above for air conditioning and sports talk radio.

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