Despite fighting for nearly a quarter of a century, the Filipino boxing legend's hunger for battle remains—a trait he may have passed on to his son.
Manny Pacquiao didn’t forge his birth certificate.
He just didn’t produce it.
Pacquiao made his pro on January 22, 1995, 24 years before he’ll fight Adrien Broner tomorrow night in Las Vegas on Showtime PPV (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). The scrappy southpaw was just 16 years old then, short of the required 18 years. He was physically ready to turn pro, just not old enough.
Pacquiao told administrators at the Philippines’ boxing commission that he was 18. He convinced them to issue a license only because the tiny amateur boxer promised to present them a copy of his birth certificate at his first professional fight.
At the weigh-in, Pacquiao was concerned he wouldn’t be allowed to compete. His birth certificate was his primary problem, not the only one.
Pacquiao was supposed to box fellow Filipino Edmund Ignacio around the minimumweight limit of 105 pounds. He only weighed 98 pounds, though, the day of their weigh-in.
“The minimum weight is 105, right?” a laughing Pacquiao told a group of reporters Tuesday during an interview session at MGM Grand. “One-hundred-five at the professional [level]. But my weight is only 98 pounds. Ninety-eight pounds, so I have a problem because the minimum weight is 105 pounds. I’m 98 pounds, so I’m thinking, ‘OK, I will put heavy weights in my briefs.’”
Those lead weights helped the eventual eight-division champion officially weigh in at 106 pounds. He beat Ignacio by four-round unanimous decision. Twenty-four years, 69 fights and hundreds of millions of dollars later, Pacquiao still hasn’t been asked again about providing that birth certificate.
“After the fight, they gave me an announcement for the commission because they saw how I fight,” Pacquiao said. “They liked me. ‘You’re good. You’re a good fighter.’ [I said], ‘Thank you.’ And then they forgot to do my birth certificate.”
When he heads back home to the Philippines following the Broner bout, Pacquiao might have to a hide another birth certificate.
Emmanuel Pacquiao Jr., affectionately called Jemuel, wants to make his amateur debut next month. At 18, Manny’s second-oldest child is old enough to box while wearing headgear and bigger gloves.
Jemuel’s biggest issue is that his father and mother, Jinkee, want their son to stay as far away from boxing as possible.
“I feel sad,” Pacquiao said. “I don’t want him to box. But he really likes boxing. Almost every day, all the time, I can catch him watching my fights. All my fights, he downloaded to his cell phone. … I saw him watching the [Miguel] Cotto fight, the [Oscar] De La Hoya fight, the [Antonio] Margarito fight, the [Ricky] Hatton fight, the [Erik] Morales fight on his cell phone.”
“ I don’t want him to box. But he really likes boxing. Almost every day, all the time, I can catch him watching my fights. ” Eight-division World Champion Manny Pacquiao, on his son following in his footsteps.
A sheepish Pacquiao couldn’t help but laugh when he concluded, “I don’t know if his mom [will allow it].”
There is footage on YouTube of Jemuel and his older brother, Michael Pacquiao, hitting the mitts. Former WBC light flyweight champion Rodel Mayol has worked with Jemuel at his father’s gym in General Santos City. They’ve also trained at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.
Pacquiao admits he is aware of the training but says, “I don’t know who trains him.”
Nevertheless, he is impressed by his son’s strength.
“He’s strong,” Manny said. “He has a strong frame. He’s right-handed. The other one [Michael] is a southpaw. But his right hand is strong.”
Manny might not be able to stop his son from fighting, but he won’t push him toward this dangerous, grueling sport.
“I always discourage him [from] boxing,” Pacquiao said. “In my house, they cannot see equipment
of boxing or gloves. I have a big, covered court, NBA-size, [for] basketball.”
Meanwhile, Manny is weighing his own retirement from boxing.
The 40-year-old legend learned recently to allow his body to rest during training camp, which has helped him feel fresher heading into his 12-round, 147-pound title defense versus Broner. If Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) beats Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs, 1 NC) in the main event of Showtime’s four-fight, pay-per-view telecast from MGM Grand Garden Arena, he could face Floyd Mayweather in a rematch later this year, if Mayweather comes out of retirement a third time.
“I’m OK,” Pacquiao said. “I feel no pain. That’s why I’m so thankful to God for giving me this strength, this good health. Because they say when you reach age 40, you can feel back pain and dizziness. But I don’t feel that. God is good. I don’t feel that. Even without boxing much, without a scheduled fight, I’m able to work hard. I play basketball almost four hours every day.”
Even so, Pacquiao, who also serves full-time as a senator in the Philippines, wants to be careful about not remaining in boxing too long.
“I have that in my mind, staying too long or burning yourself [out] in this sport,” Manny Pacquiao said. “I’ve been thinking about that. When are you gonna stop? Until you feel something in your body? No. But right now I’m good. I can still fight.”
For a closer look at Pacquiao vs Broner, check out our fight page.