LAS VEGAS – A 54-seater bus emblazoned with huge images of Manny Pacquiao on both sides made the lonely 300-mile trip from Los Angeles Monday with just about 20 passengers on board. In past fights, this bus was overflowing with passengers. It was filled with members of media, Pacquiao’s friends from GenSan and Los Angeles, some politicians and hangers on who brought along more hangers on.
The reason why a small number of people were allowed to ride it was obvious: cost-cutting.
Mike Koncz, the Canadian adviser of Pacquiao, had made it clear that for the Jessie Vargas fight, there will be corners to be cut to avoid unnecessary spending.
In the past, the bus had Pacquiao and wife Jinkee and close family members as passengers alongside a small number of staff.
Being given the chance to ride it meant also one thing: rooms at some of the city’s ultra-luxurious hotels for about five days.
Even the number of dignitaries from the Philippines given airfare, fight tickets and rooms were downsized.
“We are cutting down on expenses,” said Koncz, who handles Pacquiao’s finances.
So the bus, whose seats were once as coveted as fight tickets, took off from Hollywood earlier than usual, made the customary rest room break at Barstow and finally arrived in Sin City without much fanfare.
Instead of getting posh rooms at the Wynn, Pacquiao’s select guests were brought to neighboring Treasure Island.
Pacquiao is known for his legendary generosity.
Twice in 2010, Pacquiao chartered a jumbo jet that ferried him and his supporters to Dallas from Los Angeles.
In 2013, he brought many of his province mates from General Santos City via AirAsia on a sponsorship deal.