A  DAY  IN  A  BOXER'S  LIFE

LOS ANGELES, March 2, 2005 
(STAR) By Joaquin Henson  -  At least, the place where two-time world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao lives here is comfortable. Pacquiao works so hard in the gym, is fiercely disciplined in his diet and sticks to a Spartan regimen that he deserves no less.

Home for Pacquiao in this city is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condominium unit in the five-storey Sunset and Vine luxury apartments, a 20-minute walk from Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym where he trains.

The unit is brand new. Magic Johnson reportedly financed the construction of the corner building which was finished two years ago. Pacquiao lives in unit 361-V.

It’s a first-class residential building with free use of a swimming pool, jacuzzi, a game room for chess and poker, a billiards hall, a visitors lounge and an atrium for tenants. Pacquiao’s new manager Shelly Finkel takes care of the $4,000 monthly rent for the unit.

The condominium is fully secured. Pacquiao parks his 2003 Lincoln Navigator–which he bought a few weeks ago for $35,000–in a designated slot at a gated basement and uses a keycard for access into the building. There are shops–including a Borders music/book outlet and a Bed, Bath and Beyond store–at the ground level.

Before transferring, Pacquiao stayed in Room 120 at the Vagabond Inn, a stone’s throw away from the Wild Card Gym. He used to pay about $2,800 a month for the room.

Pacquiao’s new crib is spacious. His bedroom has two beds and its own bathroom. Pacquiao sleeps alone in his side of the room. On his bed headboard are pictures of wife Jinkee and son Jimuel who visited for two weeks last month. Pacquiao took Jinkee and Jimuel to Disneyland at Anaheim to celebrate Valentine’s Day. They left last Feb. 16.

The other bedroom also has two beds and a bathroom. Other features are a kitchen, a living room (with space for a desk top computer, a sofa set and a TV with a video player), a balcony with a sitting area and a wash room. The floor area is about 200 square meters.

Trusted aide Buboy Fernandez, conditioning coach Justin Fortune, fighter Gerry Balagbagan and writer Winchell Campos live with Pacquiao in the unit.

Friends often drop by to keep Pacquiao company. Among the frequent visitors are Greg Asuncion, Joe Ramos and flyweight contender Brian Viloria.

From Monday to Saturday, Pacquiao wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to prepare for his 45-minute jog at Griffith Park in Hollywood, rain or shine. Then he returns to his apartment to drink a cup of hot Nido milk and munch on fresh orange slices. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday when he spars, Pacquiao takes his favorite bird’s nest or chicken soup. He sleeps from 9 to 12 to get more rest, wakes up and reports to the gym at 12:30 p.m.

After his workout, Pacquiao goes back to his unit, drinks another glass of steaming Nido milk and eats some more oranges. He stays loose in the afternoon, strumming the guitar, watching TV or videos (the DVD on his player was the movie "The Hustler" starring Paul Newman), breaking down tapes of Erik Morales in action, answering phone calls from reporters, talking to friends, calling home, gulping down Red Bull or playing poker. Dinner is early evening with Fernandez and Balagbagan taking turns to do the cooking. Pacquiao likes steamed fish, chicken and soup. By 8:30 p.m., he’s in bed, ready to sleep.

On Sunday, Pacquiao attends the 8:30 a.m. Catholic Mass at the neighborhood Christ the King church where the parish priest Fr. Antonio, a Filipino, is a fan. Another Filipino priest whom Pacquiao relies on for spiritual advice is Fr. Marlon of New York City. Pacquiao relaxes on Sunday and often has lunch at a nearby Goldilocks restaurant.

Pacquiao now speaks with a slight American accent when talking to reporters without a translator. He’s getting more and more used to speaking in English.

His cell phone is constantly ringing as sports reporters from the US, Mexico and other parts of the world are hot on his trail. Pacquiao, after all, is big news.

Despite the media attention, Pacquiao remains the same regular guy. He tries not to miss his family and home too much by keeping busy in the gym and hanging out with friends in his apartment.

Pacquiao can’t wait to face Morales in Las Vegas on March 19 because after the fight, he’ll quickly fly home to be where his heart is.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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