By Michael Marley
MEXICO CITY--Some of those windbags and layabouts who "serve" the American people in Washington like to prattle on and on about "reaching across the aisle" seeking viable compromises with the opposing party.
From what I saw and heard today, the Congressman from Sarangani named Manny Pacquiao could teach Democrats, Republicans and maybe even staunch Tea Party types how to effectively work with those with a different perspective.
Pacman, you see, had most of the guesstimated 30,000 Mexcian fight fans--young and old, male and female--who combined for a massive wall of people across and around historic Revolution Square eating out of his Filipino hands.
Fresh from a morning visit to the Mexican Congress, where he was hailed and mobbed by fellow legislators, Pacquiao said just the right thing in front of his Nov. 12 "Chapter Three" PPV TV fight opponent Juan Manuel Marquez and all his countrymen.
Pacquiao did not avoid a reference to his old unofficial nickname as "the Mexican Assassin" (earned by beating legends Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera and others and including his points victory and draw against Juan Ma). Instead, he handled it diplomatically.
Resplendent in a gray suit, blue shirt, red tie and wearing a flashy diamond in his left ear, Pacquiao said in Spanish, "I didn't want to fight another Mexican boxer, it just happened and I am just and only doing my job."
Pacman laughed and the crowd inside a tent where a post-rally press conference was held did as well.
Later, in the semi-privacy of the third floor lounge at the swanky St. Regis Hotel, just before a helicopter took the Pinoy Idol and his entrourage to Azteca TV network studios so he could sing a song for the company which has the Mexican broadcast rights to the big fight, Pacquiao said he was overhwelmed by the positive reception he got here.
"I am very surprised and very happy about this reception," Pacquiao said as the four city (Manila, New York and Beverly Hills came first) media tour was winding down.
An enthusiastic but exhausted Bob Arum said the big turnout here gave the promotion huge momentum.
He even told Pacquiao that he's getting recieved on foreign visits like Muhammad Ali did.
"It's like Muhammad Ali for Manny now," Arum said. "It's the same thing I saw happen when Ali left America. "I mean, we expected 8,000 people or so. We could have gotten 3,000 but we got 30,000.
"It's like when we took Ali to Ireland, Malaysia, to Indonesia and to the Philippines. I remember once we brought Ali here to Mexico, when he wasn't fighting, and we almost had a riot. I think this fight will do huge numbers on pay per view."
It reminded me of when I stood with Don King in the parking lot of Estadio Azteca as "El Gran Campeon" Julio Cesar Chavez prepped for a free public workout. Many thousands of people came from all over this massive metropolis to see their greatest sports hero and legend.
Suddenly, a helicopter came out of the sky, armed police and security forces jumped to combat readiness and the then president of Mexico emerged.
He had come, the president explained, to check on Chavez's vaunted left hook. If you recall, Chavez then drew boxing alltime biggest crowd, 136,000 people to the stadium to see him pummel gamester Greg Haugen.
I spoke to Hall Of Famer Barrera, now a manager-promoted now celebrating his first world champion (WBO 105 pound champ Moises Fuentes, a Chilango from this city) about how wildly Pacquiao was recieved.
"Yes," Barrera said, "I was surprised. I was very surprised at how the Mexican people treated Manny but he is very charismatic and very humble and they like that."
WBO President Francisco "Paco" Valcarcel, extremely happy to have Pacman as one of its reigning and defending beltholders, reached way back for a comparison.
"For me, I see Pacquiao as being as charismatic as Sugar Ray Robinson," the Puerto Rican attorney said. "I think Manny wins people over when they see him fighting and beating such tough guys, such good punchers, as Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. Those two guys hit so hard, Manny took some hard shots from both and yet he beat them both."
Top Rank's Tijuana-based collaborator Fernando Beltran said he had a crew of 300 people setting up the event. Beltran handles Marquez.
"We had all 300 working to set up the stage, the boxing ring, the confetti and the music and dancing girls, all of that," Beltran said. "It was so much worth it. I was glad because Pacquiao and his team were such great hosts to us in the Phillipines so we wanted to do the same for them."
On this afternoon, in the Mexican sunshine, the winner was boxing.