By Homer D. Sayson
CHICAGO — As sure as death and taxes, it’s a given that Filipinos from all over the world flock to Las Vegas each time Manny Pacquiao climbs the ring to scale another boxing mountain.
But when the Philippines’ “National Fist” faces Jessie Vargas for the WBO welterweight title at the Thomas and Mack Center on November 5, expect the Filipino crowd in attendance to be louder and bigger than usual.
That’s because another Filipino great, Nonito Donaire Jr., will be fighting in the undercard as he defends his WBO super bantamweight crown against the very dangerous Jessie Magdaleno, a hungry 24-year old who totes an unbeaten record of 23-0 with 17 stoppages.
To make sure that fans can well afford the spectacle, Top Rank Inc. set aside a few thousands of tickets priced at a reasonable $50. This is certain to draw Pacquiao and Donaire fans to drive or fly to Sin City.
Despite his brutal schedule as a newly-elected Philippine senator, Pacquiao is training against Vargas in full steam. Save for one episode of fatigue, PacMan has been hitting the road and busting some chops in sparring.
Now 37, Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) hopes to unleash upon Vargas the might of his two-fisted power, the same weapons that made him an 8-division champ and former pound-for-pound king.
It won’t be easy, though, as the taller and longer Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) is determined to score a giant upset and hoist himself among the sport’s elite.
Donaire’s path to a successful title defense won’t be a cake walk either. Magdaleno is a legitimate threat with power in both hands. Donaire, now 33, (37-3, 24 KOs) will need all that of that grit and experience to come out victorious.
Needless to say, both Pacquiao and Donaire would have to rely on their championship mettle to avoid disaster.