PACQUIAO'S  FIGHT PLAN:  ATTACK BODY, WEAR DOWN MORALES

[ALL EYES ON PACMAN: Filipinos will be glued to their television sets this morning as the Philippines’ pride Manny Pacquiao (right) takes revenge on his tormentor Erik Morales of Mexico in a 12-round, non-title featherweight match in Las Vegas, Nevada. - Photo By AP]

LAS VEGAS, January 22, 2006 (STAR) By Joaquin Henson - Manny Pacquiao grunted and groaned yesterday as he threw punches in the air, simulating what’s in store for Erik Morales in their scheduled 12-round fight at the Thomas and Mack Center here this morning (Manila time).

It was Pacquiao’s way of demonstrating how he expects to wear down Morales with a punishing body attack on the way to possibly, a knockout victory in the late rounds.

There was a bright shine in Pacquiao’s eyes as he sat beside trainer Freddie Roach and across wife Jinkee enjoying a buffet dinner at the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel at 7:30 last night.

Occasionally, Pacquiao and Roach whispered into each other’s ear, probably discussing more approaches on how to dispose of the Mexican in what is shaping to be the biggest fight of their lives.

For the first time, Pacquiao revealed how he intends to handle Morales. He said he will blast away at the Mexican’s body from the opening bell and finish him off in the late going like he did to Marco Antonio Barrera who capitulated in the 11th round.

Pacquiao also disclosed that in the weigh-in that afternoon, he tipped the scales at 127 1/2 pounds, not a pound more as announced.

"I made the weight easily and I didn’t have to reduce drastically," said Pacquiao in Filipino. "The night before the weigh-in, I ate dinner. I never stopped eating. I feel good, I feel strong."

But to make sure, Pacquiao skipped breakfast the morning of the weigh-in. After making the weight, he gobbled up a plateful of rice and feasted on bulalo topped by an orange. Then he retreated to his hotel suite to rest. Pacquiao ate steak, rice and vegetables for dinner.

Roach said he’s not worried about Morales bloating to 145 pounds when the bell rings. Morales weighed in at exactly 130.

"He’ll fill himself up and I expect a lot of undigested food in his stomach when the fight starts," said Roach. "So Manny will attack the body. Morales will be slow. He had difficulty making the weight and looked gaunt at the weigh-in. And Manny’s in the best shape of his career. He had a better training camp than when he fought Barrera. Manny will probably weigh about 136 to 138 for the fight but he’ll still be quicker than Morales."

Roach said Morales called him a crybaby for citing Pacquiao’s distractions before the first fight. "I’ll admit we took him lightly before but not now," added Roach. "I expect Manny to score a late knockout."

Pacquiao’s promoter Gary Shaw said Morales’ bigger physique will be a disadvantage for the Mexican.

"The bigger he is, the better for us," said Shaw. "It’ll be easier for Manny to hit him." Roach chimed in, "the bigger they are, the harder they fall."

After the weigh-in, the opposing trainers chose the gloves their fighters will wear. On the table were four pairs of Japanese-made Winning gloves and four pairs of Mexican-made Cleto Reyes gloves.

Morales’ trainer Jose Luis Lopez picked the Winning gloves while Roach selected one glove from one pair and the other glove from another pair after fitting all eight gloves.

"I put my hand in each glove to feel the grip," said Roach. "It doesn’t matter if you pick a glove from one pair and the other from another. But each glove is different. That’s why I fitted them all. I got the gloves, which have the best fit and grip on the fists. I understand Morales doesn’t like to use Reyes gloves because he has bad hands, which are easily injured. The Winning gloves give him more protection because of the padding on the fists."

World Boxing Council lightflyweight champion Brian Viloria said the gloves will make a difference in the rematch.

"Manny was forced to use Winning in the first fight," said Viloria. "I’ve used Reyes gloves and the longer you use them in a fight, the less padding is left on your fists because the cushion inside crumbles each time you land a punch. They’re called a puncher’s gloves because they expose the knuckles more and the more they’re exposed, the harder the impact of the punches."

In Pacquiao’s corner for the fight will be Roach, strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune, assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez and cutman Joe Chavez. That’s the same team that was in his corner for the Hector Velazquez demolition last September.

"Chavez is a close friend of mine," said Roach. "He’s Mexican but his loyalty is to me. He’s Oscar de la Hoya’s cutman and he’s done a lot of work with champions like Vernon Forrest and James Toney. I would’ve hired him as Manny’s cutman from the start but (former US promoter) Murad (Muhammad) didn’t allow it."

Lopez, Raul Robles and Fernando Fernandez will be in Morales’ corner.

Odds were almost even yesterday but Pacquiao continued to be the slight favorite. A $115 bet on Pacquiao will earn $100 and a $105 wager on Morales will return $100. A $100 bet on a draw will mean a windfall of $1,300.

The Pacquiao-Morales rematch will be shown this morning simulcast on Solar Sports and the ABS-CBN network.

The TV coverage will include the eight-round bout between three-time Philippine champion Jimrex Jaca of Negros Oriental versus Geronimo Hernandez of Mexico and the World Boxing Association superflyweight title match between Martin Castillo of Mexico and Alexander Munoz of Venezuela.

Referee Kenny Bayless will work the rematch with Paul Smith, Dave Moretti and Jerry Roth as judges. The fight will stake Pacquiao’s WBC International superfeatherweight crown.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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