BOXING: COMES NOW THE DRUNKEN CHAMP

General Santos City, June 14, 2003 By Dante Navarro (Star) Already hounded by visa problems, world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao found himself in an even terrible dilemma when he flew in a rage and sparked an ugly incident at the Mamagaya Music Lounge and Restaurant on Santiago Blvd. early Friday here.

But Pacquiao, whose visa woes have held back his plans for an early departure for the United States to prepare for his forthcoming defense of the IBF (International Boxing Federation) super-bantamweight crown against Mexican Emmanuel Lucero on July 26, denied he was the one responsible for the chair-and-table throwing and bottle-breaking incident, claiming someone had set off the melee.

"The incident would not have happened if nobody had broken a bottle of beer first at the back of my table," said Pacquiao, who was reported to have been spurned by the pub’s singer during a drinking spree with brothers Bobby and Ruel and a dozen of bodyguards.

The fracas prompted the terrified customers to scamper for safety and abandon the local disco bar, leaving thousands of unpaid bills. But the son of the owner of the bar, Belgian Nabil Koubaisy, later said they will not press charges against Pacquiao but asked the world champion to make an apology.

The fighter did apologize and vowed not to get into trouble again.

However, Pacquiao could be in for a bigger mess.

In a radio interview, Games and Amusements Board chair Eduardo Villanueva questioned Pacquiao’s presence in the bar at this stage when he was supposed to be preparing for his big fight next month and warned that his latest outburst might jeopardize his title defense.

"Di ba dapat umiiwas ka sa pag-inom ng alak dahil may laban ka,"
Villanueva asked Pacquiao. The GAB chief later cautioned the boxer that his title defense might be imperiled if formal charges will be filed against him.

"But we will investigate first the veracity of the report before we’ll put sanction against Pacquiao," Villanueva told dxMD Radyo Agong.

Chief Inspector Maximo Luyugan, commander of the Police Precinct 6 of the Gen. Santos City Police, said the incident happened at around 2 a.m.

Maisalana Diga, 26, manager of the pubhouse, told police investigators that Pacquiao arrived at the place around 12 midnight along with nine other companions.

Luyugan, in a report sent to PNP headquarters at Camp Crame, said Pacquiao created trouble at around 2 a.m. when his request for a date was rejected by a certain Normie, a band singer at the bar.

Pacquiao was apparently disappointed when Normie told him that she was already married and that "going out" with customers is not part of her job.

Bar employees and security guards were unable to stop Pacquiao, who was reeking with liquor at the time of the incident. The boxer broke six empty bottles of beer, seven pieces of drinking glasses and two pieces of bowl plates.

The manager said the group’s bill amounted to P4,095 which Pacquiao settled before leaving the premises.

Still outraged, Pacquiao even hit the table of the security guard, and pushed at least four motorcycle units at the parking area. With reports from Christina Mendez and John Paul Jubelag


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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