There's something about Manny.
The Philippines' biggest boxer and sports celebrity, Manny Pacquiao, is set to slug it out Saturday against American Floyd Mayweather Jr. — a bout being billed as the Fight of the Century.
While Mayweather, 38, has been the favorite leading up to the welterweight title fight worth over $358 million, Pacquiao has done his best to play up his likeable, Renaissance man persona ahead of the Las Vegas Strip spectacle.
The 36-year-old has been elevated to superhero status — his nickname is Pacman, after all — in large part by his fervent Filipino-American fan base that showed up by the hundreds to cheer him on at a Vegas rally earlier this month.
But there's more to Manny than his conquests on the canvas.
Call Him Congressman
Pacquiao knows a good political fight as well. He has been a congressman representing the southern Philippine province of Sarangani since 2010, and is being coaxed by top politicians to run for an open senate seat next year.
Boxing promoter Bob Arum told TMZ.com that Pacquiao even has his eye on a presidential run.
In America, he's made political friends in both parties, from GOP presidential contender Marco Rubio to Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid.
Living It Up Like Diddy
Pacquiao closed on a palatial $12.5 million home in Beverly Hills not far from where he trains, the Los Angeles Times reported last month. The estate was once home to rapper-producer Sean "Diddy" Combs, and at 10,000 square feet is more than enough space for his wife, Jinkee, and their five children: Emmanuel Jr., Michael Stephen, Mary Divine Grace, Queen Elizabeth and Israel.
According to USA Today, Pacquiao had an ace up his sleeve: he beat out the other bidders by offering four tickets to his mega bout in Vegas.
"No doubt it helped," Pacquiao's realtor, Elsa Nelson, told the newspaper. "The sellers are great fans of boxing and of Manny, so it was a big deal."
He may be just 5-foot-6, but Pacquiao loves basketball. He's been a player and coach on the Philippine Basketball Association's Kia Carnival, and was named an honorary member of the Boston Celtics in 2010.
During a ceremony, he was given a green-and-white Celtics jersey with his name and the No. 1.
Stamp of Approval
The Philippines this month launched a limited-edition stamp (500,000 total) bearing the image of Pacquiao. According to reports, the souvenir sheets are almost sold out.
Pacquiao has a lot of celebrity supporters, from NFL player Tim Tebow (they both share a strong Christian faith) to hoops star and host Charles Barkley to actor Keanu Reeves.
But perhaps his biggest fan has been Jimmy Kimmel, who encourages Pacquiao's other passion: singing.
In 2010, Pacquiao and Will Ferrell dueted a schmaltzy rendition of "Imagine" on Kimmel's late-night show. This month, Kimmel did his own cover of a Pacquiao-performed song that is expected to be played as his entrance music before Saturday's fight.