MANILA, December 13, 2004 
(STAR) By Joaquin Henson - Manny sends message to Mexican foe... 

The message rang loud and clear all the way to Mexico. Consensus world featherweight boxing champion Manny Pacquiao delivered a scary warning to Juan Manuel Marquez to prepare for the worst beating of his life when they meet in a rematch on Feb. 26 either in Reno or Las Vegas.

The message came via Pacquiao’s devastating one-punch knockout of Fahsan 3-K Battery at 1:26 of the fourth round in their International Boxing Federation (IBF) title eliminator at the Fort in Taguig last Saturday.

The force of Pacquiao’s left uppercut to the chin was so powerful that it lifted Fahsan off both feet before depositing him flat on his back. Referee Ferdie Estrella didn’t bother to count. Games and Amusements Board (GAB) ringside physician Dr. Nasser Cruz immediately jumped into the ring to check Fahsan’s condition.

Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said the punch was picture-perfect.

"Manny set it up beautifully," gushed Roach who flew in from Los Angeles two weeks to supervise Pacquiao’s workouts in Davao. "He threw a right lead which grazed Fahsan then as Fahsan opened up to throw a counter right, Manny hit him with the left uppercut. That kind of power, I’ve seen only in heavyweights. You don’t often see featherweights lifting guys off their feet with one punch."

Roach recalled a similar ending in 1973 when heavyweight George Foreman elevated Joe Frazier with a brutal uppercut to score a second round knockout in Kingston, Jamaica.

The rhythm of Pacquiao’s 1-2 combination went like the beat of a metronome. It was quick and exact.

Pacquiao said he made a conscious effort to use the right hand because that’s what Roach has been working on in the gym for Marquez. But when the opening for the left came, he didn’t hesitate.

* * *

It took over five hours to assemble the ring at the Fort.

Edgardo (Boy) Cantada donated the use of his Everlast ring to promoters Rod Nazario and Murad Muhamad. He brought in the first-class "squared circle" from the US for the Cantada Sports Center in Taguig which is the home of the weekly Sunday afternoon TV show "Fistorama" on RPN-9.

Cantada refused to be paid for the loan of the ring. "It’s my contribution to support Philippine boxing," he said.

Cantada also mobilized his staff to put up the ring. His foreman Isidro (Baldo) Nunez said the job wasn’t easy because the ground was not even. Nunez and his crew had to construct a tilted wooden platform–the peak height was 16 inches–to level the flooring in the ring. Nunez said the platform took three hours to finish and the ring assembly, about two.

Sports took charge of staging the event, including the TV coverage. Wilson and William Tieng, who own Solar, were at ringside. So were Solar executive vice president Peter Chanliong and vice president Ralph Roy. Erick Tam handled the TV production and Rico Arce, the physical arrangements.

PLDT head Manny Pangilinan was also at ringside. Without PLDT’s support, the project couldn’t have gotten off the ground. * * * Working Pacquiao’s corner were Roach, cutman Lenny de Jesus from New York, Buboy Fernandez and Lito Mondejar.

Fernandez said Pacquiao didn’t attack Fahsan’s body too much because he was wary of the Thai’s counter to the head. That’s why Pacquiao almost exclusively went upstairs.

Fernandez confirmed the deliberate effort to throw the right in anticipation of the Marquez rematch.

"Mautak si Marquez," said Fernandez. "Alam niya ang pamatay ni Manny ay yung kanyang kaliwa kaya sabi ni coach Freddie, dapat praktisado rin ang kanan."

Roach said he wants to build Pacquiao’s confidence in the right hook.

"It’s an easier punch to throw for Manny who’s a southpaw," explained Roach. "It will travel a shorter distance to the target than the left because it’s closer to his opponent. Marquez will be looking for the left in the rematch so we’ll surprise him with the right."

* * *

Roach said Pacquiao’s stomach muscles are as hard as a block of granite.

"His abs are incredible," continued Roach. "To toughen up his midsection, we do a routine where we hit him in the stomach with those Thai sticks that the kickboxers use in training. We do it for about 15 minutes after every workout to toughen him up. Manny can take it."

By the way, Roach got the surprise of his life when his Filipino friend Weng Tibus showed up after the fight.

Roach met Weng in a Davao department store last week and they’ve dated twice. He invited her to fly to Manila to watch the fight. But Roach was told she missed the flight.

Roach’s friend Michael Contz, an American lawyer who’s been in town for a month, arranged for Weng to take her first plane ride.

Roach and his friend rode beside each other in a van from the Fort to the Discovery Suites where Murad threw a victory party at the Simplicity Lounge.

"We’re just friends," smiled Roach, an eligible bachelor. "We just get along, that’s all."

Contz said he will call a press conference this week to announce plans of promoting more Filipino fighters around the world. "I want to bring integrity back to the sport," he said. "There’s a lot of boxing talent in the Philippines and I want to be able to give the fighters the opportunity to become world champions."

* * *

Broadcaster and journalist Ronnie Nathanielsz made his debut as a ring announcer in last Saturday’s main event. "It’s time for revenge," he said in firing up the crowd of over 25,000 before introducing Pacquiao and Fahsan.

Nathanielsz took out a ring announcer’s license from the GAB the day before. He declined to be paid for the job.

"I want to take Ronnie to the US because I think he’s better than Michael Buffer," beamed Muhammad.

Boy Villanera, whose brother-in-law Tiger Ari used to be world’s No. 1 superfeatherweight, was the ring announcer in the other bouts. Villanera’s trademark "It’s showtime" is a crowd tingler.

Both Nathanielsz and Villanera looked dapper in their suits. They added to the Las Vegas atmosphere at the Fort.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved