The Philippine Star
LAS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao recaptured the WBO welterweight title via a unanimous 12-round decision over Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena here Saturday night (yesterday morning, Manila) with his estranged parents Rosalio and Dionisia watching at ringside.
Pacquiao’s family, including brothers Rogel and Bobby, came in full force with only wife Jinkee staying behind in General Santos City expecting to deliver their fifth child any day now. Their four children also missed the trip. While his father quietly watched the proceedings from a distance, Mommy Dionisia was visibly in the public eye. TV cameras caught her cheering, praying and throwing punches in the air as if to show her son how to beat Bradley.
Before the fight, Mommy Dionisia went to Pacquiao’s dressing room and prayed over her son. “I told him not to pity Bradley, to knock him out,” said Mommy Dionisia in Filipino. “Son, you have to go out there and win. God will protect you.” A Catholic, Mommy Dionisia held a prayer pamphlet while watching the fight.
For the first time in Pacquiao’s career, Mommy Dionisia went inside the ring after her son was declared the winner over Bradley. She went directly to Pacquiao, kissing her son then walked up to Bradley and said, “sorry but that’s boxing, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”
Mommy Dionisia said Pacquiao could’ve knocked out Bradley if he wanted. “Bradley was on the way down but Manny took pity on him and let him go,” she said. “That’s how he is. He doesn’t want to hurt his opponents. I’m very happy Manny won. This was for our country and the Filipino people.” In the dressing room, Mommy Dionisia thanked Freddie Roach for coaching her son and gave him a big hug.
Mommy Dionisia virtually raised Pacquiao alone along with her five other children. “Manny has a strong mind and a strong body,” she once said. “Just like his mother, except I am stronger.”
While Mommy Dionisia is Catholic, her son is a born-again Christian. The morning of the fight, former US Air Force chaplain Fr. Ricardito Salditos of Oriental Mindoro celebrated Holy Mass for Pacquiao’s intentions at the Islander conference room of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Fr. Salditos went overseas in 1988 and was initially posted in Canada. He was transferred to Lubbock, Texas, then had a long stint with the US Air Force. Fr. Salditos is now awaiting relocation to a new parish after leaving the US Air Force after 11 years. Mommy Dionisia was supposed to attend the Mass but failed to show up.
Friends and family gathered in Pacquiao’s dressing room while doctors sewed up the cut that Bradley opened with a headbutt in the 12th round. Buboy Fernandez said the cut was on the same spot where Pacquiao also had a wound during the Erik Morales fight in 2005.
Actor Stephen Baldwin, who accompanies pastors to conduct Bible studies with Pacquiao, was in the dressing room, too. Baldwin was in Macau when Pacquiao outpointed Brandon Rios last year. He said Pacquiao was “energized” for the Bradley rematch and wouldn’t be denied victory. “It was like he stepped out of his sensibility,” added Baldwin. “Manny was more energized than when he fought Rios. Bradley, of course, is a lot different and tougher than Rios.”
Roach’s assistant Marvin Somodio said Pacquiao boxed masterfully in defeating Bradley. Although he was assigned by Roach to tape Pacquiao’s handwraps in the dressing room before the fight, Somodio was not in the fighter’s corner. It was the second straight fight where Somodio did the honors. “Manny wraps his own hands but I apply the last tape to secure the wraps,” said Somodio.