By Jake Donovan
Former eight division champion Manny Pacquiao went “home” for the holidays, making his 7th appearance on the hit late night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Wednesday evening.
The spot is part of a long-running pre-fight tradition, where he appears on the show prior to a big upcoming fight. This particular appearance comes 10 days before his fourth showdown with Juan Manuel Marquez on December 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao’s first invitation to Kimmel’s show came 11 days prior to his Nov. ’09 catchweight showdown with Miguel Cotto. The global icon went on to become the first fighter in boxing history to win titles in seven weight classes after stopping Cotto in the 12th and final round.
Notoriously superstitious, Pacquiao elected to make it a permanent part of his routine. Each appearance on the show comes roughly 1½ weeks prior to one of his fights. Wednesday marked his second time in which an appearance preceded a Marquez fight, though last year’s guest spot didn’t provide the same level of luck as in past fights.
The third showdown with Marquez last November resulted in a highly disputed majority win for the Filipino superstar. It was the last official win for Pacquiao, who went on to drop a split decision to Tim Bradley this past June.
The outcome of that fight is generally viewed as one of the worst decisions in recent memory, though the talk show host had a theory as to why Pacquiao’s official win streak ended that evening.
“That was the only time on the show where you didn’t sing,” Kimmel quipped.
Pacquiao is a renowned karaoke junkie, even taking his talents so far as to recording an official cover to the 1980’s Dan Hill classic “Sometimes When We Touch.” He sang the song on Kimmel’s show along with other 80’s ballads in the past. There have also been on-show duets, including Pacquiao and Kimmel performing a Bee Gees classic on the show preceding the third fight with Marquez.
For the second straight time, Pacquiao escaped the show without having to perform. Still, there was plenty of entertainment to be found.
Included among the segment was a discussion on Pacquiao’s training habits during the holidays. “Tomorrow, I have to train,” Pacquiao responded when asked if he’d have the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving.
The two also touched on Pacquiao’s title-losing robbery against Bradley and why it’s a fourth fight with Marquez and not a second fight with his recent conqueror that is taking place.
“I don’t think I need to prove something to Bradley,” Pacquiao responded, while seated on the couch, decked out in official M/P-brand clothing. “It was a one-sided fight against Bradley and I have nothing to prove.”
Along with the absence of a singing performance from the last show, Kimmel pointed out that Pacquiao had given up drinking, gambling and cock fighting. The change in habits is in line with Pacquiao’s strengthened relationship in Christ, which goes a long ways towards his not remaining bitter over what took place in June.
“I understand we’re not perfect,” Pacquiao said of the scoring from that evening. “I still respect the commission, the judges and the referees. I hope that it’s a learning (lesson) for boxing.
The segment ended with an extended play on HBO’s award-winning “24/7” reality series, which suggested a long overdue showdown between Pacquiao and Guillermo Rodriguez, Kimmel’s sidekick.
During the faux documentary, it was suggested that Pacquiao and Rodriguez were supposed to fight on three other occasions. Instead, Rodriguez’ withdrawal from each fight lead to the longtime Pacquiao-Marquez rivalry.
“The first time, I ate too much,” Guillermo revealed. “The second time, I had to take my dogs, Pepe and Paco to the doctor’s. The third time, I was drunk and I overslept.
"The next time, nothing will stop me from getting in the ring – except if there is a ghost or a scary dog.”
It's because of Guillermo's last minute ditches that we've instead been presented with the Pacquiao-Marquez series as we know it.
"I fill in for Guillermo every time he misses a fight," Marquez states, which - given the career he's lead - would make him Lou Gehrig to Guillermo's Wally Pipp. "I'm kind of like his understudy.
Pacquiao joined in on the fun, as did his staff of Hall of Famers.
“We were supposed to fight three times and he keeps avoiding me,” Pacquiao jokingly insisted. “He said last time he didn’t get an invitation to the fight. Come on, this is not a birthday party to get an invitation. This is boxing!”
Roach quipped, “It’s hard to train for Guillermo because… it’s my understanding that he’s never fought before.”
Ever the carnival barker, Arum seized the opportunity to sell the event.
“This is the fight everyone truly wants to see,” stated the Hall of Fame promoter. “Two mustachiod warriors going at it toe-to-toe, and only one will emerge victorious.”
Alas, the fight was never to be. Pacquiao was weighed at 147 pounds (unconfirmed, as for the skit only), only for the rotund Guillermo to tip the scales at a massive 100 lb. over the limit.
“Yeah, I don’t have to fight Pacquiao,” Guillermo stated in celebration. “Now you can fight Marquez again.”
Pacquiao wasn’t as receptive to the news.
“He did it to me again! Noooooooooo!”
Also appearing on the show were actor/comedian Tim Allen, and a show-ending performance by hip hop superstar Flo Rida.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox