MANILA,  October 8, 2004  (STAR) Bracing for his keenly-awaited rematch with Mexican champ Juan Manuel Marquez in February 2005, Manny Pacquiao takes on dangerous Gairy St. Clair of Australia in a crucial tuneup on Dec. 4 at the Global City in Taguig.

A boxing source said a formal announcement of the blockbuster event will be held sometime next week starring Pacquiao with promoter Murad Muhammad and the Perth-based St. Clair joining him via phone-patch.

"Manny Pacquiao will defend his People’s Featherweight championship. We are very ecstatic about this fight," Muhammad and Pacquiao’s business manager Rod Nazario said in a joint statement from the US.

Pacquiao, who had 38 wins in 42 fights, including 29 knockouts, is reportedly getting $500,000 tax-free from the fight, his first since he settled for a controversial split draw decision with Marquez last May.

Staging the megabuck card is a group that frequently promotes major concerts featuring big-name pop stars and rock bands, according to the source.

Taguig Mayor Freddie Tiñga is also lending a hand in the Pacquiao headliner, expressing his excitement over the prospects of seeing Pacquiao battle the durable St. Clair in the flesh.

"We welcome this event with open arms," said Tiñga.

Considering that Pacquiao has earned the respect of millions of Filipinos for having brought prestige and honor to the country, Tiñga stressed that holding his next boxing match in Taguig will be a big boost to the town’s continuing development.

The bout will be a good promotion for Taguig and this will surely put Taguig on the map.

St. Clair, who is originally from Georgetown, Guyana, packs a 35-3-2 win-loss-draw card with 15 knockouts. The 5-4 bomber is coming off an 11th round demolition of Ghanaian Theopilus Quaye.

All his three losses were on points and were dealt by former world champions such as Vivian Harris, Leonard Dorin and Diego Corrales.

Pacquiao arrived from Los Angeles on Tuesday morning but is expected to return soon to Los Angeles to resume his training at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood soon.

This developed even as Pacquiao has reportedly decided not to renew the promotional contract of Muhammad, whose contract is supposed to expire on Feb. 2005.

Meanwhile, popular boxing website has ranked Pacquiao No. 5 among the top 20 pound-for-pound boxers in the world.

"After beating Barrera like he stole something, Pacquiao came right back to face Juan Manuel Marquez in this year’s (so far) fight of the year. Although the judges scored it a draw, gave the nod to Pacquiao," said the website’s publisher Gregory Leon.

While maintaining that Pacquiao is a one-dimensional fighter, said the 24-year-old southpaw from General Santos remains absolutely relentless in the ring and his pressure has already proven to be a bit too much for even the world’s best to handle.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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