Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pacquiao: ‘Time to make history’

Pacquiao 3 lb lighter than Hoya

LAS VEGAS—With a smile on his face and a snarl in his voice, Manny Pacquiao shrugged off a weighty issue as he tries to overcome the biggest challenge in his career both for the glory of a nation and for his own share of boxing greatness.

The Filipino icon battles his sport’s acknowledged Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya, in an intriguing welterweight battle Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the MGM Grand’s Garden Arena here, in a fight dubbed the “Dream Match.” Some call it a mismatch.

“I’m ready to fight,” Pacquiao told journalists Friday night. “It’s time to make history.”

The 29-year-old brawler tipped the scales at 142 pounds Friday in a festive official weigh-in at the packed Garden Arena. The moment the number was called out, trainer Freddie Roach quickly approached the scale to check if he heard it correctly. Everybody sensed something was wrong.

“I was surprised at my weight,” Pacquiao said later that evening inside his cushy 61st floor suite at Mandalay Bay. “Before I went to the weigh-in, I checked my weight and came in at 146 lb.”

That the 5-foot-10 De La Hoya made it at 145 lb, two under the stipulated welterweight limit of 147 lb, drew even more questions.

“When I got to the venue, in less than an hour, I weighed 142 lb. In less than an hour I lost 4 lb and I did not even do anything. I don’t want to insinuate anything, but I lost 4 lb in less than an hour without doing anything,” Pacquiao said.

Not that Pacquiao wants a full-blown inquiry into the matter.

“Ako pa? Kilala niyo ako, hindi ako basta-basta nasisindak,” exclaimed Pacquiao. “Kung gusto nila, magsuntukan na kami ngayon, kahit wala pang gloves (You know me. I don’t get scared easily. If they want, we can fight now, even with the gloves off).

De La Hoya ploy?

People may easily register different weights in different scales, but the difference is rarely as pronounced as 4 lb. Pacquiao feels that De La Hoya may have rigged his way out of a $6-million penalty for being overweight.

As stipulated in the fight contract, any fighter who weighs over 147 lb will pay $3 million per excess pound. That clause was inserted into the contract as a safety measure by Roach to prevent De La Hoya from coming in too big and create an even bigger mismatch between the two fighters.

De La Hoya, who has been in seclusion since reaching this gambling haven Monday night except for a few official public appearances, could not be reached for comment as his team immediately whisked him out of the venue after a couple of short television interviews.

Prior to the weigh-in, though, De La Hoya said that he “feels great” at the lower weight.

“I feel energetic,” he said. “I feel happy. I feel like I have a little bounce. I’m taking care of myself, to make sure that I keep the speed, because the power is already there.”

Pacquiao added there was no way the official scale and his own machine could have produced separate results because they were both on the mark just the day before.

4 pounds off Hoya

“After I trained, I checked my weight and came in at 146. I ate a little and the next morning, I checked my weight again and came in at 146. All of a sudden, the official scale and my scale were off by 4 lb. Take those 4 lb and that means Oscar is 149.”

As dangerous as the prospect of fighting a guy 2 lb heavier than he should be is, Pacquiao remains unperturbed. In fact, he relished the challenge and—a day after being referred to as King Kong by De La Hoya—cooked up his own metaphor for the match.

“It’s David vs Goliath,” Pacquiao said, laughing.

But this David is expected to have a tougher time against Goliath.

Pacquiao, the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer, sports a 47-3-2 record spiked with 35 knockouts. He battles the Golden Boy (29-5, 30 KOs) in a fight people say he cannot win. Even the betting odds, which was slowly moving to an even line on fight night, suddenly turned against him after he registered 142 on the scales.

Pacquiao is now a plus 160 underdog and De La Hoya a minus 190 favorite for the match. That means that a $100 bet on the Filipino will win an additional $160, while one has to bet $190 on De La Hoya to win another $100. Before the weigh-in, De La Hoya was a minus 155 favorite and Pacquiao just a plus 125 underdog.

Power punches but ...

Emanuel Steward, who once trained De La Hoya, praised Pacquiao’s ability to unload power punches in volumes from the first to the last round, but he still favored the Golden Boy to win this one.

“The odds would have to favor Oscar because he’s the bigger man and he’s not slow,” Steward said.

Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins was even more brutally honest.

“This is one of the greatest fights ever and Oscar’s going to knock Manny out in the seventh or eighth round,” said the 43-year-old Hopkins, who is coming off an impressive victory over Kenny “The Ghost” Pavlik.

Steward says Pacquiao’s relentlessness and De La Hoya’s penchant for losing steam in the later rounds may be the only way that the outcome could be reversed.

“He (Manny) punches with full power from first round to 12th round. Most big punchers like Mike Tyson get tired after the first few rounds. Manny’s going to be punching at full speed and if Oscar tires like he does in all of his big fights, Manny could knock him out.”

The legendary trainer also warned De La Hoya that an inspired Pacquiao might just find a way to pull off an upset.

Whole country behind him

“I’ve never known any fighter in my life that has a whole country behind him,” Steward said. “Julio Cesar Chavez was like that in Mexico, but nothing like Manny. He’s motivated because he feels like he’s not fighting for himself, he’s fighting for a lot of people.”

“It’s not just all of the Philippines, but all of Asia depending on this one little fellow.”

And more than that, Pacquiao is fighting for his spot alongside the greats of the game.

“If I beat Oscar, I will be known not only in the Philippines but in the whole world,” Pacquiao had said. “People are going to be talking about this fight for the next 50 years. This is going to be part of boxing history.”


Pacquiao should also get a boost from a revelation by a former De La Hoya sparring partner that all the hype about how hard the Golden Boy trained for the fight is plain rubbish.

“Oscar doesn’t like to work out,” said super featherweight knockout artist Edwin Valero. The Venezuelan said he saw clips of Pacquiao in training and compared it to his experience with De La Hoya and from that predicted the Filipino to knock out his bigger rival.

“Oscar doesn’t like to run,” added the 27-year-old Valero. “Pacquiao is going to knock Oscar out.”

Whatever happens, Pacquiao is assured of his biggest windfall ever.

The four-division champion and current WBC lightweight king is expected to earn close to $15 million for this fight, which includes a guaranteed purse—reportedly $6 million—and his share of the pay-per-view pie.

No. 2 bestseller

The fight already is No. 2 on the Nevada bestseller list, second only to the De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather blockbuster last year in terms of ticket sales. Experts said it took an economic turmoil in the US to prevent the “Dream Match” from being No. 1.

The official weigh-in was hosted by comedian George Lopez, who made a normally routine affair into a lively one, engaging the crowd and cracking one-liners that scored a knockout with his audience.

“This is one of the greatest fights in boxing so if you can’t watch it live, get it on pay-per-view. That’s where OJ is going to watch it for the next 15 years to life.” Lopez said, referring to disgraced football star OJ Simpson, who was sentenced to prison earlier that day.

“If you’re white, don’t forget to get this fight on pay-per-view. If you’re Latino, you can just, you know, connect the cables or whatever,” added Lopez, who is of Mexican descent.

Also present during the weigh-in were Top Rank chief Bob Arum and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, announcer Michael Buffer and boxers Hopkins, Shane Mosely, Ricky Hatton and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Something wrong

Arum, who is co-promoting the fight with the Golden Boy promotions, said he sensed something wrong with the way De La Hoya looked.

“I don’t know if it’s wishful thinking or if I’m seeing things that I shouldn’t be seeing, but Oscar looked drawn,” Arum said. “If Oscar comes in more than 155 lb, he’s going to be dead because he will be putting too much weight and that makes him vulnerable to body shots.”

An hour before the fight, there were already close to 3,000 fans, boisterously cheering for their boxers and waving the national flag of the Philippines and Mexico.

Half an hour before the weigh-in started, there were no more seats available.
(By Francis Ochoa)

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