LAS VEGAS, January 21, 2006
(BULLETIN) It has been widely said that every punch Manny Pacquiao throws carries the strength of 80-plus million Filipinos.

But the Filipino boxing star admitted on Thursday morning, just after a roadwork at the UNLV track oval, that the pressure is beginning to build up.

"Triple," Pacquiao responded when asked about his sentiments and feeling concerning his rematch with Erik Morales on Saturday night (Sunday morning in Manila) before an expected mammoth crowd at the Thomas and Mack Center.

"Hindi lang doble, triple pa," he said, looking at the vast expanse of the Nevada desert that is clearly viewed from his elegant suite at the 51st floor of the Wynn Las Vegas.

While his wife Jinkee busied herself e-mailing friends and downloading music on the couple’s newly-bought Sony Vaio laptop, Pacquiao appeared in a pensive mood but still sounded upbeat that the tide will be turned.

Pacquiao made little mention about what he intends to do once the bell rings and referee Kenny Bayless orders the two prizefighters to get it on, but exuded the confidence that when the mushroom cloud dissipates following their scheduled 12-rounder dubbed "The Battle," it will be the two-division champion from General Santos City who’s going to have his arms raised in triumph.

Even though Morales is coming off a loss, a lot of Filipinos regard this weekend’s fight as an even bigger event than that of March last year at the MGM Grand when Pacquiao and Morales went at it for the first time.

It’s probably because Morales cannot afford to absorb another loss and this is the last chance for Pacquiao to exact payback and prove to his people back home that he just did not have the breaks the first time he and the Mexican crossed paths.

A win by Pacquiao will open up more lucrative and high-profile matches, including a third fight with Morales in May or June, while loss by would relegate his stature as just being a good fighter who had his share of moments.

Of course, Pacquiao is not the type who will be content with just that.

His lethal left hand neutralized by Morales in the first fight, Pacquiao will have to come up with an A+ performance this time to get even with his vastly-experienced and durable foe.

"I know that everybody back home is looking forward for me to win. I can feel the pressure that’s why I will do everything," said Pacquiao, who should have no problem conquering the scales in Friday afternoon’s official weigh-in at the Margaux Ballroom at 3 pm.

But as for Morales, questions have been raised over his weight considering that the last time he fought—a loss to Zahir Raheem in Los Angeles—he failed to make the weight of 133 lbs.

After two tries, Morales still weighed a pound above the limit.

What makes it interesting is that the weight limit this time is 130 lbs.

Pacquiao said he doesn’t have problems and even had chicken tinola and rice for dinner.

Trainer Freddie Roach said he expects his fighter to tip in at 129 lbs at the weigh-in and 137 to 138 during fight night.

Morales cannot afford to take it easy because under the agreement signed with the other party, he will have to pay 0,000 per pound in excess of 130.

"Even if it’s just a fraction, Morales will pay," said Pacquiao’s aide Joe Ramos, who will confirm with Shelly Finkel and Gary Shaw the report that Morales is also not allowed to go past 140 on fight night since a similar fine awaits him.

Morales’ new trainer Jose Luis Lopez said he expects Morales to make the weight.

"We worked very hard in training camp. I see no problem," said Lopez.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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