For Manny Pacquiao, chaos, distractions are a way of life

Martin Rogers
Filipino boxing star Manny Pacquiao, shown holding his youngest child Israel in February, will move his family into their new house in Los Angeles befofre his May 2 superfight against Floyd Mayweather.

LOS ANGELES -- The Beverly Hills real estate market is wickedly competitive, but Manny Pacquiao had the perfect ace up his sleeve. Battling with two other bidders on a $12.5 million-listed, 10,000 square-foot property last week, Pacquiao sealed the deal by offering the vendor four tickets to his May 2 superfight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

"No doubt it helped," Pacquiao's realtor, Elsa Nelson, told USA TODAY Sports. "The sellers are great fans of boxing and of Manny, so it was a big deal."

Most people would think that moving into a house four weeks before the biggest fight of his life would be an impossible distraction, but that is to misunderstand the Filipino boxing star.

For while Mayweather largely shuts himself off from the world during training camp, surrounded in Las Vegas by only his devoted entourage, Pacquiao loves the myriad of distractions that infiltrate his daily life and claims to be energized by them.

"It is busy," Pacquiao said. "But I like busy. It is good for me to have energy."

Last weekend brought a three-hour visit from and lengthy dinner chat with Tim Tebow. Celebrities such as comedian Dave Chappelle and actors Lorraine Bracco and Robert Duvall have frequented his training sessions.

Countless boxers have swung by, too, including middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and Chatchai Sasakul, the former boxer whom Pacquiao defeated in Thailand in his first world title bout 17 years ago.

Then there are the dozens of Filipino fans who wait outside the gym each afternoon for a glimpse of their hero. It is a whirlwind of noise and action and Pacquiao has the power to control it, if he wanted to.

"He chooses not to," said Gary Andrew Poole, author of the 2010 biography Pacman: Behind The Scenes with Manny Pacquiao, for which he spent months trailing the boxer. "Here is a guy who is a sitting Congressman in the Philippines, he plays for and coaches a pro basketball team, he is a brand endorser, he sings and acts and is now getting ready for this huge fight.

"There is stuff happening constantly around him but he likes it, it makes him comfortable. Often the craziest time is before his biggest fights."

Pacquiao is constantly surrounded by so much activity that his publicist Fred Sternburg describes him as "the eye of the hurricane."

"You have to realize that Manny is used to a certain level of chaos, for want of a better word, in his life," said his promoter, Bob Arum. "He is used to a certain level of activity. He has always had that in the Philippines and here, too. He wants people around him. He wants there to be a lot going on. He thrives on it."

However, moving into a new house and the upheaval it inevitably causes would seem to be the strangest development of all. The 36-year-old bought a property in Hancock Park in 2009, but has now gotten a head start on spending some of the estimated $80 million he will get for fighting Mayweather in what promises to be the most lucrative bout of all time.

With the big showdown now less than six weeks away, Nelson said that Pacquiao pulled her aside and told her he was "counting on me to make sure they are all moved in this week."

The boxer has already given a tour of the property, in a gated development in Beverly Hills, to his wife Jinkee and their children. The purchase came with a provision that the house came move-in ready; fully stocked with furniture and home goods – and according to Nelson the sellers, Gail and Roger Dauer, even threw in a full supply of Pacquiao's favorite drink -- orange Gatorade.

Pacquiao's frenetic pace is likely to continue right up until the big fight, and he has been busying himself with the promotional rounds. The welterweight champion spent more than 12 hours on the day of the fight's official press conference in Los Angeles conducting various interviews and media sessions.

More interviews continue in between training sessions and at least one more appearance on the set of his friend Jimmy Kimmel's late-night show is to be expected.

By comparison, the typically outspoken Mayweather has been strangely subdued, perhaps realizing that this is the biggest challenge he has faced in years, and the biggest threat to his perfect record since he stared down Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.

"This fight sells itself," Mayweather said. "He is doing a lot of talk shows. I prefer him to do it so I can train."