[PHOTO AT LEFT - Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao (left) and Mexican rival Oscar Larios strike a pose during the press conference of their highly anticipated ‘Mano-a-Mano’ showdown at the Discovery Suites in Pasig City yesterday. The 12-round fight is set on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. - Photo By JOEY MENDOZA]

MANILA, JUNE 30, 2006 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Treat him well. End the fight quickly.

Shelly Finkel issued this direct order to Manny Pacquiao yesterday during the final press conference for the Filipino fighter’s highly-awaited bout with Mexico’s Oscar Larios on Sunday.

Larios’ manager Rafael Mendoza had just fielded a reporter’s question at the packed Serendipity Lounge of the Discovery Suites when Pacquiao’s American manager spoke.

"We’ve been treated very well here. But I’m sure Manny Pacquiao will treat him (Larios) very bad (on the ring). I hope Oscar pays him back," said Mendoza.

Finkel readily agreed by saying over the microphone, "I think Manny will treat him well by ending the fight very very quickly."

Pacquiao smiled back at his manager.

Freddie Roach shared the same sentiment. In fact, over a week ago, the former trainer of heavyweight legend Mike Tyson said the coming fight might not last six rounds.

"If Manny goes by our game plan, then that might happen. But we’re ready to go 12 rounds. If there’s going to be a knockout, that will happen," said Roach. Pacquiao will train at the ABAP gym for the last time today.

Roach stressed that they’ve worked very hard for this fight, and Pacquiao certainly isn’t looking ahead of it. "There’s no future without a win here."

But Larios, who’s getting $450,000 just to show up at the Araneta Coliseum, said he’s just as determined to win the bout, whether or not it lasts the distance.

"A victory over Pacquiao will mean a lot more money for me. And it will make a lot of people happy in Mexico," he said through his trainer Edison Reynoso.

"I’m excited and happy. I’m not nervous — whether the fight is held in Las Vegas or here in Manila. I’m not thinking of a loss. I’m thinking of a victory," Larios added.

The two fighters sat beside each other and shook hands before and after the press conference. They gamely posed for photographers and television cameras, at times staring at each other.

They hardly touched their food presented to them at the presidential table and left the lounge nestled on the 22nd floor of the classy hotel as soon as they could.

At first, Pacquiao had very little to say, but managed to bring the house down when he said: "Excited na ako matikman ang mga suntok ni Larios."

Larios left and retreated to his 12th floor, three-bedroom suite, probably just to change into his training uniform. He trains at the Red Corner boxing gym a few blocks from the hotel.

Pacquiao, for his part, had to travel nearly an hour just to get to the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex where he has trained since flying in from Los Angeles 12 days ago.

NOTES: Here’s good news to those just planning to buy tickets to the fight: they’re on a "buy-three-take-one" basis right now. According to Ticketnet, tickets are still very much available at their booths with only two days before the fight. "Madami pa po," said a Ticketnet agent over the phone yesterday. Tickets are priced at P30,000 for patron seats, P20,000 lower box, P7,900 upper box A and P2,500 upper box B. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to buy your tickets early, just like the case of a big Pacquiao fan who bought tickets worth P97,000 a few days ago. "Sayang, hindi ko na-avail ang promo," he said... If Freddie Roach could have his way, he’d rather have his ward stay at the Manila Hotel until the fight is over than transfer to the Discovery Suites where a nice suite is waiting for him. "The only thing I’m worried about is that he’s comfortable with where he is right now. I don’t want to make any changes and I’ll talk to him about that. He’s sleeping well where he’s in right now. Give him a new bed and it might throw him off. Why change the atmosphere at all? If there’s no problem, why fix it?" said Roach.

Council denies tax exemption for Pacquiao match screening The Freeman 06/30/2006

The City Council has denied the request of MP Promotions, organizer of the special screening of the much-anticipated Manny Pacquiao-Oscar Larios match at movie houses in SM City Cebu on Sunday, for a full exemption of amusement taxes.

While those councilors who voted for the exemption outnumbered those who opposed, Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera pointed out that the six councilors who approved the request still did not reach the majority based on those present in last Wednesday's session.

Councilor Rodrigo Abellanosa also pointed out that the city would not be able to benefit from the event if it would have full tax exemption. During the sensational fight between Pacquiao and Mexican boxer Eric Morales in January, the city earned at least P1 million.

Councilor Sylvan Jakosalem suggested a compromise deal under which the city would sponsor the event and subsequently collect 10 percent of the income. But his proposal was not carried.

Considering that more fights are anticipated from Pacquiao, Abellanosa reasoned out that granting the tax exemption would serve as precedent to future events, something that would not benefit the city.

Those who voted for the exemption were Councilors Arsenio Pacaña, Procopio Fernandez, Edu Rama, Jakosalem, and Rodolfo Estela. Those who opposed were Councilors Joey Daluz, Edgardo Labella, Abellanosa, and Nestor Archival.

Pesquera and Councilors Gabriel Leyson and Gerardo Carillo abstained from voting.

The request for tax exemption was made through a resolution filed by Jakosalem, who said it is befitting for the council to support the event considering that Pacquiao "comes with the weight of the entire nation on his shoulders."

"Pac Man has rejuvenated the sport of boxing like many of those before him and brought the system and firm beliefs of an entire nation as backup, thus, it is just befitting that we support this upcoming event and give any assistance to anyone that supports this endeavor vis-à-vis by making the said experience available for viewing for us to witness," the resolution reads.

Under the city's Omnibus Tax Ordinance, "the holding of operas, concerts, dramas, recital, painting and art exhibitions, flower shows, musical programs, literary oratorical presentations shall be exempted from the payment of the amusement tax, subject to the approval of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of their duly filed application for exemption." - Joeberth M. Ocao

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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