When he steps into the boxing ring, Manny Pacquiao always insists that famed ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. enunciate his Filipino province of Sarangani.
Pacquiao’s pride in that region is understandable, considering he previously served as a representative of that province’s congressional district and is a current senator in the Philippines.
Some have speculated that the 42-year-old Pacquiao will run for president of the Philippines in 2022 and that his fight versus Yordenis Ugas on Saturday could be the boxer’s last one, though Pacquiao has indicated he’ll keep fighting.
“He has defied all predictions and he’s defied age for so long. I tend to believe him when he says it’s not going to be his last fight,” Lennon Jr. said. “He doesn’t look at it that way.”
Pacquiao’s opponent in this match, Ugas, is a last-minute fill-in after a retinal tear forced Errol Spence Jr. to withdraw earlier this month from his planned WBC and IBF welterweight title defense.
But Ugas is no layup. He’s three inches taller and seven years younger than Pacquiao. And since working with a new trainer, Ugas has only lost once — a split-decision loss to Shawn Porter — in his last 12 fights.MORE FOR YOUFC Barcelona Have Already Signed A New MidfielderAEW Dynamite Results: Winners, News And Notes On August 18, 2021Philippe Coutinho Will Stay At FC Barcelona And Has Been Offered Lionel Messi’s Number 10
“I don’t think of him as an underdog,” Lennon Jr. said. “He’s one of the top five welterweights in the world … This is no easy fight at all.”
Pacquiao also could be rusty or diminished, having not fought since July 20, 2019 when he defeated Keith Thurman by split decision to win the WBA title.
Back then Pacquiao was listed as one of Forbes’ highest-paid athletes in the world.
For Saturday’s fight Pacquiao is reportedly receiving a guaranteed purse of $5 million, and his total earning could be around $25 million depending on how many people pay the $74.95 fee on the FOX Sports app.
FOX is in its third year of a partnership with Premier Boxing Champions across its myriad platforms.
Lennon Jr. was set to announce another major FOX fight: the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder match on July 24, but Fury tested positive for Covid-19, pushing the fight back until Oct. 9.
Less than a month after the postponement of the Fury-Wilder fight, Spence Jr. dropped out against Pacquiao.
“Welcome to my world as of late,” Lennon Jr. joked. “It’s been a scramble.”
Relying on hot tea and throat lozenges to maintain his booming voice, Lennon has worked as a ring announcer for 38 years. He’s called more than 15,000 fights, including more than a thousand world title fights, in 35 different countries.
His father, Jimmy Lennon, announced fights for more than 40 years, and his family would watch him on KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles.
“I thought everyone’s Dad was on TV regularly,” he said.
But the youngest of Lennon’s five children, whose voice echoes his late father, majored in psychology and education at UCLA and sought an avocation to “help people.”
He was a teacher and headmaster before boxing beckoned.
“The ring serves as the stage for the greatest of human dramas,” Lennon Jr. said.
He first saw Pacquiao on that stage via his ringside seat in 2002 when he was on hand to call the main card of Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson.
In the undercard Pacquiao knocked out Jorge Eliecer Julio.
Although Pacquiao’s physical talents stood out, Lennon Jr. has since come to marvel at his graciousness.
Lennon Jr. remembers a fan not only asking Pacquiao for a selfie, but also wanting him to hold the camera so the angle would be better. The humble boxer obliged, holding the camera while winking at Lennon Jr. in the process.
Pacquiao will be all business Saturday night when he returns to the stage for the first time in more than two years.
“I take pride in being part of every big fight,” Lennon Jr. said. “And this is one of them for sure.”