Pacquiao sees fist of God delivering win over Mayweather
Filipino boxing hero Manny Pacquiao is confident he can beat American arch-rival Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas on Saturday with the power of God, after abandoning a life he said was packed with sin condemning him to hell.
Pacquiao is in top form both in mind and spirit after he traded his boozing, gambling and womanising ways for a devout life of prayer, his spiritual adviser, Jeric Soriano, told AFP in a recent interview. “Manny is a God-fearing man. Inside his heart of hearts he really loved God. Except the world got to him,” Soriano said of Pacquiao’s party-boy lifestyle before he became born-again in 2012.
Pacquiao now dreams of becoming a pastor and is building a 6,000-square metre (1.5-acre) “worship house” in his southern Philippine hometown of General Santos as a monument to his spiritual rebirth, Soriano said. With Soriano’s help, Pacquiao a few years ago converted to the born-again faith, which shuns many Catholic traditions such as religious images but emphasises strict adherence to the bible.
He is now building a church, to be called “The Word for Everyone” and which can accommodate up 5,000 people, in his southern hometown of General Santos, informed pastor Boy Buan, who is overseeing the construction. In 2012, Pacquiao acknowledged he had succumbed to many of the temptations on offer to ultra-wealthy sportsmen, after the Philippine media for many years dined out on rumours of infidelity, drinking and gambling.
“I do realise I was a weak person before. If I had died the other year, I believe my soul would have ended in hell. I had faith, but I was doing things which were against the will of God,” Pacquiao also reflected on his earlier life. “All the things I loved and wanted were the same things that were most detestable before the eyes of God. I was a sinner,” Pacquiao said. Soriano said Pacquiao confided to him that he felt he was wasting his millions of dollars in boxing earnings on vices. “Why can’t I channel that instead to a church that will speak the word of God?” he recalled Pacquiao saying.
Like the prophets in the Old Testament, Pacquiao claimed God appeared to him in a dream, according to Soriano, a television commercial director who had worked with the boxer in the past.
“He was in a forest, a strong light hit him and pierced his body and he heard a voice asking him: Where are you? Why have you left me?” Soriano said. Pacquiao was crying in his dream and he woke up with his pillow soaked in tears, and he was soon telling anyone who would listen the almighty joy of being a believer, he said.
“They say he’s fast in the ring. But when he received Jesus Christ, there was also speed in his (spiritual) growth. He has this hunger to know Jesus,” said Soriano. The conversion also played a crucial role in saving his marriage to wife Jinkee with whom he now has five children, according to Soriano.