NEW YORK — Manny Pacquiao seems to win something, whether it’s a fight or an award, just about every time he makes the long trip to the United States.
The pound-for-pound king and newly elected congressman from the Philippines accepted his third Fighter of the Year award Friday night at the Roosevelt Hotel, while his trainer Freddie Roach was honored for the fourth time by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
“Tonight I overflow with joy and gratitude. I am thankful that, just like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier and other boxers, I decided to get into boxing,” Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao won by a landslide in the voting by the organization’s members, after a year that featured a spectacular second-round knockout of Ricky Hatton to win a 140-pound belt and a brutal 12th-round stoppage of Miguel Cotto that gave Pacquiao titles in a record seven divisions.
Pacquiao also accepted a special award as Fighter of the Decade.
“I confronted poverty by trusting God and dreaming big,” Pacquiao said. “I was convinced I could succeed in boxing. The boxing ring could be the breeding ground for my dreams.”
Accompanied by his wife, Jinkee, and most of his family, Pacquiao will remain in New York to watch Cotto challenge junior middleweight champion Yuri Foreman on Saturday night in the first fight at Yankee Stadium in more than three decades.
The freshman politician will then head to Washington on Monday to meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, promoter Bob Arum said, before a family vacation in Mexico.
Then it’s back to the Philippines, where Congress convenes in July.
Meanwhile, Arum will continue work on perhaps the most highly anticipated fight in decades, between Pacquiao and the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. The two nearly reached an agreement to fight earlier this year, but negotiations broke down when Mayweather insisted on Olympic-style drug testing and Pacquiao refused to have blood drawn within 24 days of a fight.
Pacquiao went on to defeat Joshua Clottey before 51,000 fans at Cowboys Stadium near Dallas, while Mayweather packed the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for an impressive victory over Shane Mosley.
Arum declined to discuss details of the negotiations, in keeping with an agreement that he made with Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions, who is working on behalf of Mayweather. But the veteran promoter said that Pacquiao is now willing to have blood tests within 14 days of the fight, the cutoff point that Mayweather had agreed to in the first go-around.
Arum also said he believes the fight, which would likely happen in November, will end up in Las Vegas rather than Cowboys Stadium or another venue that could pack upward of 100,000 fans.
“The key element, if the fight happens, we’re finding out now is that Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas is Frank Sinatra times a hundred,” Arum said Friday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
“They all are licking their chops for Manny Pacquiao, especially against Floyd Mayweather, because nobody else can bring in the highest of the high-rollers,” Arum added. “The MGM or Steve Wynn will put up a number over or above the best gate.”
Many believe that the reason negotiations for Pacquiao-Mayweather broke down the first time is that too many people involved in the fight were speaking through the media, which is also why both sides have sworn secrecy for potentially the richest fight in boxing history.
Roach is also keeping quiet, for no other reason than to save himself the aggravation.
“I’m just going to stay out of this one,” he said. “I’m tired of whining, guessing, hoping. Obviously we all hope to get the big fight, but if we don’t, we’ll fight somebody else.”
Roach had multiple reasons to be in New York this weekend. Along with accepting his fourth Trainer of the Year award, he’ll be in the corner of junior middleweight Vanes Martirosyan when he faces Joe Greene in the main undercard fight Saturday night at Yankee Stadium.
Among others honored by the Boxing Writers Association of America on Friday night included Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz, who waged the Fight of the Year; longtime sports writer Jerry Izenberg for long and meritorious service; the late Alexis Arguello for goodwill; Nick Charles and George Chuvalo for overcoming adversity; and judge Mills Lane for honesty and integrity.
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