Amazing but true.
For all the honors Rep. Manny Pacquiao has given General Santos City as a professional boxer, he only fought exactly once in General Santos City. And that fight lasted just a shade under 12 minutes.
That lone fight occurred in 1996 against Bert Batiller whom he knocked out in the fourth round. It was also his 15th professional bout in 18 months after turning pro in January 1995.
Since then, residents from General Santos City have not seen Pacquiao fight live except when some of them went to nearby Koronadal City to watch him demolish Thai boxer Panomdej Ohyuthanakorn in the first round in the undecard of the Luisito Espinosa-Carlos Rios World Boxing Council featherweight title fight.
Pacquiao of course started his amateur years in General Santos City fighting under the nom de guerre Kid Kulafu and earning Php30 in allowance money.
He was on his way to becoming a member of the national training pool but opted to stow away and find his luck in Metro Manila.
As fate would have it, Manny is now the toast of the boxing world.
But a vast majority from his home city and his adopted province of Sarangani have yet to see him fight live.
What will it take to bring one of Manny’s future remaining pro fights to General Santos City or in Sarangani?
The last time Manny fought in the country was in 2006 against Oscar Larios. By then, he was already in the cusp of boxing stardom having already beaten Erik Morales in a rematch, drawn with Juan Manuel Marquez and pummeled Marco Antonio Barrera into submission.
The Larios fight was held at the Araneta Coliseum but did not fare well at the gates. By the time Manny climbed the ring, the coliseum was half empty or half full depending on how one viewed it.
But it did not go bad at all in the pay per view.
Pitted against a named or fairly competitive opponent and a good undercard, a Pacquiao fight in General Santos is possible.
It will take a little sacrifice for Manny. Like foregoing his share in the live gate receipts or even subsidizing it.
A carefully structured PPV revenue sharing to go along with it will do the trick.
It can be held at an open space and the public could watch it for free, except the choice ringside seats.
It can be planned ahead to enable the city to build additional hotel rooms for the hundreds of media men and international boxing fans who are expected to plane in.
With Manny’s PPV appeal, there is no way HBO could lose money.
HBO, Bob Arum’s Top Rank and Pacquiao may earn a little less but they will not lose their shirts.
Question is, will Manny take the risk and satisfy his countrymen and give fans back here in his hometown a once in a lifetime chance to see him fight live under their very eyes?