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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nazario's dying wish to Pacquiao: KO Cotto

Even at his death bed, long-time ring promoter Rod Nazario had nothing but boxing in his mind.

Nazario made two major wishes to boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao days before he passed away after a year-long bout with lung cancer.

The 74-year old boxing man admonished Pacquiao to often use his powerful left hand in his coming Nov. 14 title fight with reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Miguel Cotto, and then requested that Eden Sonsona – cousin of WBO super-bantamweight king Marvelous Marvin Sonsona – be added in the undercard of his bout against the Puerto Rican.

“Alam mo namang pag si Dolfo ang humiling kay Manny, hindi tumatanggi yun," Moy Lainez, Nazario’s long-time associate, said hours after Nazario passed away Thursday morning at the Perpetual Help Hospital in Las Pinas.

“Bago umakyat si Manny sa Baguio, nagbilin na siya (Nazario). Yung isang usapan nila tungkol sa laban niya nga kay Cotto. Sabi niya tandaan mo, `yung kaliwa mo ang siyang magna-knockout kay Cotto," Lainez recalled of the conversation between the two.

"Hiniling niya (Nazario) rin na sana mapasama si Eden Sonsona sa undercard ng laban niya against Cotto," said Lainez, whose friendship and association with Nazario extend back to more than four decades.

Pacquiao has since made special arrangement for the inclusion of Sonsona, a boxer of Nazario, in the boxing card for his coming fight with Cotto.

Nazario’s death came four days after Pacquiao entered training camp at the country’s Summer Capital.

A somber atmosphere shrouded Pacquiao’s training Thursday at the Shape Up gym at the Cooyesan Hotel along Naguilan Road as Nazario had been like a second father to the world’s top pound-for-pound fighter, according to Lainez.

In a statement, the 30-year old pride of Genera Santos City deeply consoled the loss of his former handler.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Rod Nazario, who was not only a loving father and husband, but a great loss to me and the sport of boxing. I will forever cherish our fondest memories in and outside the ring. We will terribly miss him," said Pacquiao.

“Si Buboy (Fernandez) nga raw iyak ng iyak," Lainez said of Pacquiao’s close buddy and Freddie Roach’s assistant trainer, who got his big break in boxing while working errands with the group of Nazario, Lainez and Lito Mondejar in the old L&M gym.

Gerry Garcia, another close friend of Nazario and partner in the top rating boxing show In This Corner also with Lainez and Mondejar, said Pacquiao is likely to take a break in training and pay his last respects to the late boxing manager by Sunday.

A day upon arriving from his whirlwind press tour for the Nov. 14 title fight with the 28-year old Cotto, Pacquiao visited the Wild Card gym in Paranaque, where he sweat it out for about an hour, before proceeding to the Perpetual Help Hospital in Las Pinas to check on Nazario’s condition, who had been confined there shortly after celebrating his 74th birthday last Sept. 12.

The following day, the boxing star visited his former manager once again prior to his trip to Baguio City.

Nazario handled Pacquiao from 1995 to 2005, and was the one responsible for giving the Filipino his U.S. break in 2001 when he stunned Lehlo Ledwaba to wrest the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-bantamweight title.

It was also under Nazario’s tutelage when Pacquiao became a legitimate world champion after bagging the World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight crown in 1998, scored his biggest win with an 11th round technical knockout of Marco Antonio Barrera, and cemented his status as a rising boxing star following that controversial draw with Juan Manuel Marquez in their memorable 2004 title fight in Las Vegas.

The two parted ways shortly after Pacquiao lost a unanimous decision against Mexican warrior Eric Morales.

Despite going their separate ways, the two remained close to each other, with Nazario and Co. even traveling to the U.S. last summer to watch Pacquiao demolish Briton Ricky Hatton inside two rounds for the International Boxing Organization (IBO) light-welterweight crown.

By that time, Nazario – who also undergone by-pass operation three years ago – had already been undergoing chemo-therapy for his lung cancer.

Source: gmanews.tv

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