Wednesday, November 3, 2010
“Your crazy! Oscar’s over 5 inches taller. He fought and won at middleweight! That’s 160 pounds! Pacquaio’s never fought over 135 pounds. Why on earth would you organize an after-fight party for Pacquiao? Manny may not even show up. He might end up in the hospital after the fight. Say goodbye to your $100k investment Dan! That was Dan Soliven’s younger brother screaming at him over the phone from Manila.
Hit hard by the subprime mortgage crisis and down on his luck, Dan Soliven was getting desperate. He had lost tens of thousands of dollars from his high-risk real-estate deals that once upon a time made him hundreds of thousands of dollars. “My net worth was a shade under $1 million dollars just one year before the Pacquiao vs De la Hoya fight. I could have gone back to Cebu or Manila and retired comfortably. But I continued to take huge risks that exploded in my face.”
Little did he know that a chance encounter with a member of Team Pacquiao in Los Angeles would change his fortunes 180 degrees. Eating alone at a Chinese restaurant, a man with a “Team Pacquiao” jacket came in to wait for take-away food. Dan approached the total stranger and asked if he was really a member of Pacquiao’s team and if he could set up a meeting with Manny. He gave his business card and left the restaurant not expecting a reply at all. Dan figured, the guy could have just bought his “Team Pacquiao” jacket at a Nike store a few blocks away.
2 hours later, Dan was surprised to get a phone call from him. He asked if he wanted to meet Pacquiao at his condominium at Palazzo Beverly Hills that same afternoon. He was elated but really did not believe that it was that easy to ask for a meeting with the most popular citizen of the Philippines and the best boxer in the world. Dan immediately drove to Manny’s unit a few hours later still skeptical if the guy he met was actually a team member. Dan knocks on the door and is relieved to be let in and see around 25 people in a condominium unit designed for 8. “Now this is definitely Manny’s place”. Dan laughing inside.
He’s introduced to Manny and they shake hands- “Pasok ka. Dun ka muna” (come in and stay there for awhile). Manny continued to play darts for over 2 hours while Dan waited at the balcony. That’s where he met “Pacman”, Manny’s world famous Jack Russel Terrier, Mike Koncz, Buboy Fernandez, and other members of team Pacquiao. After 2 hours, Dan was getting impatient and thought this whole idea is crazy. So he told Mike Koncz that he’ll just leave and will just thank Pacquiao and the rest of the team for letting a total stranger in his home. “He’s playing darts man. Wait a few more minutes. He’ll come out and sit down with you,” Mike Koncz tells Dan. After another 30 minutes, Manny comes out and sits down with Dan. “Oh, gusto mo daw ako ma meet” (So, you wanted to meet me?)- Manny asked Dan.
This is the way the meeting went:
Dan: “Thank you for your time Manny. I’ll make this short. I want to organize an “After – Fight party for you after your bout with Oscar.”
Pacquiao: “Kaya mo ba e fund yung ganyang event? Madami kami dito” (can you fund such an event? Look at my staff, we’re a lot here).
Dan: “Magkano ba Manny”? (how much Manny?)
Pacquaio: “$100,000. Hindi naman sa akin yan. Para sa boys yan. Bibigay ko lang sa kanila yan para Masaya lahat”. ($100k. That’s not for me. I’ll just give that to the boys. As you can see, we’re so many here. I like making them happy).
Dan: “Mejo malaki yan Manny pero sige. Bigyan mo akong 20 minutes. Mag tatawag ako. Hindi kaya ito mag isa kasi eh. Nalugi ako sa real-estate dito Manny. (That’s big. But ok. Let me make a few phone calls. I cannot put that up myself. I got hit by the real-estate crisis and will need help from family and friends).
Pacquiao: “Naiintindihan ko. Sige lang. Tulungan tayo” ( I understand. Ok. Don’t worry. Let’s help each other.)
After calling a few friends in the Philippines with his mobile phone from Pacquiao’s flat, Dan tells Manny- “I’m in. I’ll pay you $100k up front. Let me have the exclusive rights to the “Pacquiao vs De la Hoya after fight party.” Dan later recalls that saying that to Manny sent shivers down his spine. “This is not an exaggeration, that was 4 weeks before the fight. I slept an average of 3 hours a day after meeting Manny. I was worried that I was digging myself in another hole.”
Pacquiao shakes Dan’s hand and tells him to come back with the cash the next day or 2 and write down what he wants him to do for the after-fight party. “I borrowed money from friends and family members and withdrew $100,000 cash. Immediately the next day. I drove to Manny’s flat with the cash, contract and a video camera on hand.”
This was all haphazardly done! I reserved the Rum Jungle bar and restaurant at the Mandalay Bay Hotel 3 days after the meeting and pre sold tickets to the event at $60. Tickets were sold out after 8 days but I was still short of the break-even point since I was relying on “walk-in” customers to profit. I set the price at $100 per ticket for the walk-in customers. I was relying on the “walk-ins” to really make money. But then I heard this from 9 out of 10 so called “boxing experts.”
“Big mistake Dan. When a boxer is injured after the fight, he’ll have to go straight to the hospital for observation. There is a huge possibility Manny may not even be there. And when Manny’s not at that party, no one will show up except the people that already paid for their tickets”. But at that point, there was no turning back. “The contract has been signed, sealed and delivered. I’ll just leave it up to fate.”
“Part of my deal with Manny was a ringside ticket to that fight. I had heart pulpitations for the first 3 rounds. I couldn’t take it being so close to the action. But after the 3rd round, I knew my gamble was going to pay off big time. After Pacquiao annihilated Oscar in the 8th round and stood up before the start of the 9th to concede to Manny, I did not celebrate. I was literally pinned to my seat. I was completely exhausted. It was surreal. The entire Philippines and the Mandalay Bay was celebrating and here I was drained and pinned to my seat & teary-eyed for 10 minutes.
“I went back to my hotel room in Mandalay Bay, said a prayer and thanked God things turned out okay. I took a short nap and partied with the rest of the Philippines at the Rum Jungle. That was probably one of the happiest days of my life. I will forever be grateful to Manny for giving a guy down on his luck a chance to get back on his feet.”
I haven’t heard of an after-fight party or concert after November 13, 2010. There is news of turmoil in Manny’s camp. Coach Roach is irritated that Manny’s training is often interrupted by phone calls and meetings with the president of the Philippines. But this is the same story told every time Manny fights. Things always turn out in his favor. Margarito is hungrier. He has everything to gain and nothing to lose on November 13. The odds are slowly inching toward an even fight. Let’s wait and see.