By Keith Idec
Many gamblers in Las Vegas have made a lot of money betting on Manny Pacquiao to win fights in recent years.
Pacquiao apparently isn’t a good gambler himself.
The alarming extent of Pacquiao’s gambling problem was detailed in a Sports Illustrated article that hit newsstands Wednesday. One Pacquiao associate told SI’s Chris Mannix that Pacquiao, who has made between $20 million and $30 million per fight during the peak of his celebrated career, once asked promoter Bob Arum for a $2 million advance on one of his purses to pay off gambling debts. Arum acknowledged that he wired hundreds of thousands of dollars to casinos “five or six times” to help Pacquiao pay his debts.
“[Manny] had one of the worst gambling habits of any athlete I’ve ever known,” Arum told SI. “He was addicted to it.”
The SI article also details how Pacquiao saved his marriage to Jinkee Pacquiao after his highly controversial victory over Juan Manuel Marquez on Nov. 12 in Las Vegas and turned to religion to help change a personal life the wildly popular congressman admits was out of control.
“I used to pray every day, but then I kept cheating [on Jinkee] and doing bad things,” Pacquiao told SI. “It’s different now. The old Manny Pacquiao is gone.”
The 33-year-old Pacquiao’s critics claim “the old Manny Pacquiao” is gone inside the ring, too. Back-to-back uninspiring performances against Mexico’s Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs), whom Pacquiao defeated by majority decision, and former three-division champion Shane Mosley (46-8-1, 39 KOs, 1 NC), whom Pacquiao dropped in the third round and beat by unanimous decision, have left a growing army of Pacquiao doubters convinced undefeated Timothy Bradley will upset Pacquiao on Saturday night at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (HBO Pay-Per-View; $54.95; 9 p.m. EDT/6 p.m. PDT).
Freddie Roach has seen some slippage in the best fighter he trains, yet Roach doesn’t think there’s any way Bradley can beat Pacquiao in their 12-round fight for Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title.
“He’s not the same fighter he was five years ago,” Roach told SI, “but he is still better than everyone else.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.