NEW JERSEY PROMOTER MURAD ARRIVES FOR PACQUIAO FIGHT

MANILA, December 2, 2004 (STAR) By Joaquin Henson - New Jersey promoter Murad Muhammad flies in from the US tomorrow morning to bring news of his negotiations for consensus world featherweight boxing champion Manny Pacquiao to take on Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera in that order next year.

Muhammad will be at ringside when Pacquiao takes on Fahsan 3-K Battery of Thailand in a scheduled 12-round bout at the Fort in the Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, on Dec. 11.

Pacquiao is still in deep training at the Almendras Gym in Davao City with Freddie Roach supervising the workouts and will arrive in Manila on Sunday. Fahsan, who is planning in from Bangkok with manager Ekarat (Jimmy) Chaichotchueng and stablemate Chaiyong Distar, is expected here Monday. Distar faces rising star Z Gorres of Cebu in the undercard.

Although Pacquiao has been signed to meet Marquez in a grudge rematch in Las Vegas on Feb. 26, he’s not looking beyond Fahsan.

Roach described Fahsan a "dangerous" opponent because he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. A victory over Pacquiao would catapult Fahsan into the big-money boxing stakes.

"If he beats Manny, it’ll be an unbelievable feat," said Roach. "The guy’s getting an opportunity of a lifetime because he’s fighting the best featherweight in the world. He’ll give 100 percent in the ring. He’s a tough guy. I’ve seen him fight in the US against (Art) Simonyan. Manny’s got to be in the best shape of his life to beat this guy."

Roach said he hasn’t left Pacquiao’s side since arriving from Los Angeles last week. "I eat when he eats, he sleeps when I sleep and I run when he runs except I don’t run as fast and as far," continued Roach. "Come fight night, Manny will be ready to win. We’ve been working on his right. Our goal is to put Fahsan to sleep with a right hook."

Pacquiao is hosting Roach in his three-bedroom home at the El Rio Vista Subdivision in Davao City. Others who are staying in Pacquiao’s home are his brother Bobby, Lito Mondejar and trainer Buboy Fernandez.

Pacquiao left his wife Jinkee and their two children in General Santos City to train like a Spartan in Davao.

Roach said he has trained no fighter, perhaps other than former world lightheavyweight champion Virgil Hill, who works as hard as Pacquiao in the gym. Some of the world titlists whom Roach has trained are Michael Moorer, Marlon Starling, Willie Jorrin, Johnny Tapia, Johnny Bredahl and James Toney.

Roach suggested to take a rest last Sunday but Pacquiao refused, insisting to continue his rigorous regimen of early morning jogging up and down Davao’s hilly terrain, sparring, punching the mitts, working the bags and calisthenics.

Roach said he prefers Pacquiao to battle Barrera in a rematch in February instead of Marquez because "it’s the fight the fans will pay good money for."

But Murad said Barrera is in no mood to fight Pacquiao that soon.

To prove Barrera is avoiding Pacquiao like the plague, his mouthpiece Richard Shaeffer of Golden Boy Promotions has reportedly proposed another Oscar de la Hoya protege Oscar Larios to meet the Filipino ahead.

"There’s no sense fighting Larios for a smaller purse and it wouldn’t do anything to advance Manny’s career," said Murad. "Even HBO won’t agree to that fight. That’s crazy. I’m convinced Barrera is scared of getting another beating from Pacquiao."

Murad said after Pacquiao disposes of Marquez in February, Morales will be the next target in July.

Morales lost to Barrera via a majority decision last Saturday but the outcome could’ve gone either way. If not for an error in Larry O’Connell’s judgment in the 11th round which he scored a 10-10, it would’ve been a majority draw and Morales would’ve retained the World Boxing Council superfeatherweight crown.

Murad said after Pacquiao takes care of Marquez and Morales, Barrera will be the third in line in September. That would likely be a pay-per-view bout where Pacquiao could earn at least $1.5 Million.

Pacquiao, business manager Rod Nazario, Murad and Roach will pay a courtesy call on the sponsors of the Taguig fight this Monday. The major sponsors are Smart and Solar Sports. Discovery Suites on Ortigas is the official home of the Taguig protagonists.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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