WASHINGTON, D.C.--The phenomenon that is Manny Pacquiao arrived on the Hill Tuesday morning, offering fight fans here hope our sport won't linger on the fringes of the mainstream sports scene much longer. Even the security guards at the Capitol, by now used to witnessing all manners of celebs and foreign dignitaries traipsing through their halls, were a bit star-struck at the possibility of seeing Pacquiao
Arrived late to find the usual business entrance for the U.S. Capitol plugged with an army of traveling press and photogs that would make any lawmaker jealous. Luckily flashing my Capitol press badge allowed me to slide right through; for once, tailing politicos for a living actually proved useful in covering the fight game.
Made my way upstairs and joined the other reporters milling around in the bullpen waiting for the press conference to start. Along the way I was privileged to meet the excellent Don Steinberg on assignment for the Wall Street Journal and Greg Bishop of the New York Times, whose coverage of Pacquiao I have always admired. We exchanged pleasantries and debated whether the two would actually say anything noteworthy (consensus: no).
A few minutes after the scheduled start Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, Pacquiao advisor Michael Konz and about a dozen other members of Pacquiao's personal entourage arrived. Arum informed us that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was taking Pacquiao on a walk across the Senate floor, which he called "a great honor."
Finally they emerged to continuous clicks and flashes: the diminutive Filipino champ that conquered the world and the amateur boxer who slugged his way to the top seat in the Senate. Reid predictably took to the podium first and wasted no time in proclaiming Pacman one of the greatest fighters of all time.