MANILA - The military will go all out to cheer on Army reservist Manny Pacquiao when he meets Timothy Bradley in their rematch today in La Vegas.
Pacquiao’s bout would be aired live down south at an Army jungle base in Basilan, the scene of day-long fierce fighting between government security forces and the Abu Sayyaf militants on Friday.
Lt. Col. John Paolo Perez, commanding officer of Army’s 18th Infantry Battalion, said bringing the bout live to the troops in the jungles of Basilan will give them an opportunity to see their idol fight Bradley.
“Yes, we will also have our own pay per view here in my hut at our headquarters in Unkaya Pukan,” said Perez, who lost two of his men in last Friday’s fighting.
With the fighting against the Abu Sayyaf already over, Perez expects the entire province of Basilan to be peaceful, even just for today, as most if not all the people, including the Abu Sayyaf, are avid fans of Pacquiao.
Pacquiao, who holds the rank of lieutenant colonel, has the full backing of his mother unit, the Philippine Army, which declared yesterday its unwavering support for the quest to dethrone Bradley as World Boxing Organization welterweight champion.
Army spokesman Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato said Pacquiao has the total support of the 80,000-strong Army.
Detoyato said key Army camps around the country will be airing the fight live, with three venues for today’s event already set up inside the main Army headquarters at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.
“The Pacquiao-Bradley fight will be aired live at Army’s Non-Commissioned Officers’ Clubhouse, the Officers’ Club House and at the Army hospital,” Detoyato said.
Detoyato, however, stressed the troops who are in the field and are currently doing operations will have to continue their missions.
“Only the soldiers inside camp can watch the fight live, while those who are involved in security operations can monitor it through a transistor radio,” Detoyato said.
At Camp Aguinaldo, the main headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), a giant screen was set up at the military’s parade grounds fronting the grandstand where viewers can see for free the Pacquiao-Bradley bout.
The fight will be also aired live at the AFP gymnasium and theater.
“We expect that today, just like in the previous fights of Manny Pacquiao, a unifying force among us Filipinos, it will be peaceful around the country,” said AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala.
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Deputy Speaker and Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla said Pacquiao is blessed with all the necessary assets to defeat Bradley.
“Manny has the guts, confidence, ring intelligence, stamina, speed, punching prowess, and aggressiveness to overcome Bradley. These assets are also backed up by rigid training and a well-thought rematch strategy,” he said.
Padilla said once again, the House of Representatives and the entire nation would be cheering for Pacquiao in his quest for another victory.
“No less than Manny himself has confirmed that he still has the killer instinct and is unafraid to use his power and go for a knockout. Let’s all pray for his safety and victory,” he added. – Jess Diaz