One was curious about the science behind boxing, while the other was a big basketball fan. When Kobe Bryant spent a day with Manny Pacquiao at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles in 2011, the two had a lot to tell.
Their encounter took place when Pacquiao trained for his third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. Pacquiao was the reigning WBO welterweight world champion and in the middle of an incredible run in which he had beaten Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya in the past three years.
Meanwhile, Bryant had an unexpected time in his hands. The NBA was in the middle of a lockout while the league and players' association negotiated a new collective agreement. Bryant would not start its 16th season until December.
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's longtime trainer and wild card holder, has visited many celebrities in his gym, but Bryant's visit was remarkable.
"When Kobe came in, he was a gentleman," Roach told the post this week. "He asked me about Manny's training methods and how we got to his structure in the training camp and why we did things in a particular order. He was a really good guy and nice to everyone."
When Bryant wanted to talk about boxing, Pacquiao wanted to talk about basketball. The Fighting Senator from the Philippines loves basketball to the point where he owns and plays his own basketball team in the Philippines and pays other teams to face his team.
"He went crazy when Kobe came that day," said Pacquiao Roach. "That was incredible. It was the best day of his life, I think. "
When it was announced on Sunday that 41-year-old Bryant was among nine people killed in a helicopter accident, Pacquiao said to his condolences: “The world has lost a legend today, but the impact and legacy he will leave will last forever ! #RIPMamba. "
The tweet contained a picture of when the two met on the wild card that day.
"Manny asked him about basketball and shooting and how to become a better player," said Roach. "He's not afraid to ask questions. Manny still plays basketball every day. He has an indoor court in his house. He's a basketball fan. I know it's a big loss for Manny and the world, Kobe to lose. "
Pacquiao, 41, is entering his fourth decade of boxing and remains an elite fighter 25 years after his first professional fight. He owns the WBA welterweight championship after beating Keith Thurman last July and is considering what options he has for his next fight.
A rematch with Floyd Mayweather remains a distant option or maybe a matchup with former welterweight champion Danny Garcia.
"He is waiting for his next break from the Senate and he will either come here or I will go to the Philippines and we will start training," said Roach. “Sooner or later someone will come out of the woodwork. We're looking for the biggest fight we can get. "
UFC superstar Conor McGregor also mentioned a possible boxing match against Pacquiao, but Roach doesn't seem to support this option.
"I just told Manny that when you retire you will be the second or third largest fighter of your time," said Roach. "If (McGregor) tries to embarrass you, I just don't think it's good for Manny's career. McGregor has a fight. Manny is world champion. We're going to fight a man with a 0-1 boxing record. Me just don't think that should happen. "