MANILA, APRIL 12, 2006 (STAR) Having fought and demolished two Mexican legends and future Hall of Famers, Manny Pacquiao has indeed made his mark in the world of prize fighting. But beating them again will not only make him one of the greatest Filipino fighters but one of the world’s greatest fighters of all time.

"If Manny beats both of these guys, both being Hall of Fame fighters, he will go down as one of the greatest Filipino fighters of all time…and one of the greatest fighters of all time. There’s no doubt about that," said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s equally popular trainer and coach, in an interview with Brad Cooney of

Pacquiao broke into the world boxing consciousness by whipping Barrera in a convincing 11-round TKO in 2003 at the Alamodome, then regained his status as one of the sport’s future all-time greats by destroying the once-invincible Morales via a 10th round TKO last January in Las Vegas in a victory that avenged his loss to the former three-time world champion last year.

The Filipino ring idol is set to take on Morales in a keenly awaited rubber match this November and hopefully collide with Barrera in an equally explosive rematch early next year.

However, Roach said the possibility of Pacquiao taking on Barrera first instead of Morales in November looms after the latter continued to insist on fighting on a catch-weight of 132-lb where the Filipino icon isn’t comfortable with.

"Erik keeps talking about 132 lbs but Manny is stuck on fighting at 130 lbs. If we give in anything we would be giving Morales an advantage and we don’t want to do that," said Roach.

"So if Morales doesn’t want to fight at 130 lbs, then we are looking at a rematch with Barrera," he added.

But before Pacquiao gets to fight these two Mexican warriors who are raring to stop him in his tracks, the General Santos native will have to hurdle an evenly tough Oscar Larios in a July 2 encounter at the Araneta Coliseum.

It is one fight Roach hates to take lightly.

"This guy Larios is a world champion and Manny will have to be in the same condition as he was when he beat Morales," said Roach, stressing that the former WBC super bantamweight champion has nothing to lose but everything to gain against Pacquiao.

"Larios says he’s more comfortable at 130 lbs. So we will respect this guy and not take him lightly," added Roach, who coined the upcoming fight as "Thrilla in Manila 2." — Dante Navarro

Manny settles tax debts SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson The Philippine Star 04/12/2006

Manny Pacquiao can now sleep well at night. Last Monday, the three-time world boxing champion went to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) head office in Diliman, Quezon City, to personally settle his tax obligations dating back to 1999. He was accompanied by lawyer Jeng Gacal and accountant Richard Querido in paying BIR commissioner Jose Mario Bunag a visit.

A source said Pacquiao paid close to P10 Million to fulfill his duties as a good citizen.

"It’s really not Manny’s fault that he accumulated that tax liability," said an insider. "Blame it on his previous handlers who didn’t take care of his tax situation. Of course, Manny is a lot wiser now and he has taken control of his own financial affairs. He’s feeling a little low because a lot of money went out the window but his consolation is he has made a meaningful contribution as a conscientious taxpayer."

Pacquiao, of course, doesn’t pay taxes to the Philippine government on what he earns abroad. And as far as his tax case in the US is concerned, a source said that, too, has been settled by his new manager Shelly Finkel.

By the way, Pacquiao is officially the chairman of his own company MP Promotions. The president is his brother Rogel. Eric Pineda is the vice president for marketing and public relations, Jayke Joson the vice president for operations, Reli de Leon the vice president for administration, Joe Ramos the vice president for boxing affairs and Rex (Wakee) Salud boxing consultant. Gacal is the corporate secretary and Querido, the controller. The MP office is in Room 1407, Tektite Building, Ortigas Center in Pasig.

Pacquiao is spending Holy Week in General Santos City. He left Manila for his hometown early yesterday morning. Pacquiao leaves for the US to start training for his July 2 appointment with Oscar Larios on May 4 and will participate in a drumbeating tour all over the country and possibly in Mexico. He’ll likely join his brother Bobby in a press conference to announce the younger Pacquiao’s June 10 fight against Kevin Kelley at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Meanwhile, organizers are studying options to bring down ticket prices, at least in the general admission section, for the Pacquiao-Larios fight at the Araneta Coliseum. The word is a P100 Million target has been set for turnstile sales, triggering speculation that ticket prices will be extremely prohibitive. No final decision has been made as to how much tickets will cost but ringside seats will definitely pegged to five figures.

Pacquiao himself has asked organizers to price down general admission tickets to P100 or even as low as P50. If Pacquiao’s suggestion is carried out, it could mean a revenue loss of P4.5 Million considering an allocation of 5,000 tickets in the section. That’s assuming a general admission ticket will cost P100 as against a plan to price it at P1,000. A lottery scheme is under consideration to be fair in allocating the general admission tickets for sale.

A proposal to put up giant screens in the Araneta parking lot is being studied for fans not able to squeeze themselves into the coliseum. The problem is the late morning sunlight glare might make it impractical.

Organizers are going all out to make it an unforgettable card. Gerry Peñalosa, Rey (Boom Boom) Bautista and Jimrex Jaca are booked to see action in the undercard. Peñalosa’s fight may be a World Boxing Foundation (WBF) superflyweight title defense. WBF president Mick Croucher recently informed organizers the Melbourne-based body will lower its sanction fees if Peñalosa agrees to stake his crown. Bautista is billed to face Mexican veteran Alejandro Montiel while Jaca may take on Pacquiao victim Hector Velazquez.

Another fighter who may be added to the bill is World Boxing Council (WBC) lightflyweight champion Brian Viloria. The Pacquiao-Larios fight will begin no later than 11:15 a.m., Manila time, to catch live prime time viewers on US pay-per-view. Marco Antonio Barrera is expected to fly in and watch the proceedings at ringside as a commentator for a Mexican TV network. He’ll also case the joint as there’s a possibility his rematch with Pacquiao will be held here next year, if the price is right.

Other ring luminaries to be invited for the fight include Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier (who’s asking for a $5,000 appearance fee), ring announcer Michael Buffer (his fee is $12,000), Bernard Hopkins, Erik Morales (is he in line to star in an upcoming ABS-CBN telenovela, perhaps opposite Thalia?), the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter today Floyd Mayweather (who claims he’s Pacquiao’s No. 1 fan), Mike Tyson (Manila might never be the same again if he comes), Sugar Shane Mosley and Oscar de la Hoya (depending on how he does against Ricardo Mayorga in their May 6 bout).

"It’ll be a star-studded affair, for sure," said an insider. "ABS-CBN is pulling no stops in making sure this will be the biggest sporting event of the decade. The idea isn’t just to showcase Manny but also to showcase the country’s capability to host an event of this magnitude. We also want to show the world the Philippines is a major tourist destination."

As for paying Larios a whopping $450,000 purse, the insider said that’s what it took to sign up the former WBC superbantamweight champion. "We looked for a tough Mexican opponent who isn’t a patsy," continued the insider. "We could’ve paid less for another opponent but HBO wanted someone who could put up a fight against Manny. Larios is a dangerous opponent who has nothing to lose and everything to gain. He’ll earn every cent of his purse inside the ring."

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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