OCTOBER 9, 2006
(STAR) By Joaquin Henson - All other things being equal, Manny Pacquiao said brains will decide the outcome of his rubber match against Erik Morales in the climax of their ring trilogy at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 18.

That’s the word from Pacquiao’s marketing whiz Eric Pineda who shared the fighter’s inner thoughts in a STAR interview yesterday.

"Manny expects Morales to be in the best condition of his career for the fight," said Pineda. "And Manny is working hard to be in the best condition of his life, too. So if they’re in the best shape of their lives, what will make the difference is how they use their brains in getting an advantage over the other."

Pineda said Pacquiao has a lot of surprises in store for Morales.

"Manny has studied Morales’ style carefully and thinks there’s nothing more Morales can show," said Pineda. "On the other hand, Manny is going to show things Morales has never seen before."

According to Pacquiao, he’s got 20 new moves to unravel in "The Grand Finale."

"He didn’t tell me what those 20 moves are," said Pineda. "But you know Manny, if he says something, he means it. He doesn’t say things just to say things."

Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said his workouts at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles are proceeding without a hitch. Roach said Pacquiao is working on more head feints and sharpening up his right hook but wouldn’t reveal what’s being planned for Morales.

Pineda said not too many fans realize Pacquiao began working out in General Santos City before he left for the US last Sept. 18.

"That’s why when Manny reported for camp in Los Angeles, Freddie was surprised he was in shape," said Pineda. "It’s because in General Santos, all Manny did was run in the morning, work out in the gym for two hours then play basketball for at least another two hours a day."

Pacquiao showed up at the Wild Card Gym for his first workout weighing 138 pounds, only eight over the stipulated limit for the fight – an indication that he never let go since the Oscar Larios fight last July.

Pineda said fighter Gerry Peñalosa phoned the other day reporting that no one can keep up with Pacquiao in his early morning jogs in Los Angeles. Peñalosa, who joins Pacquiao in the dawn runs, is booked to face a still unnamed opponent on Oct. 21 in El Paso, Texas.

"It’s full-steam ahead for Manny in training for Morales," said Pineda. "He knows what’s at stake so he’s not leaving anything to chance."

Pineda said Roach is preparing a fight plan to counter a possible strategy where Morales will stick and run like Marco Antonio Barrera did to Rocky Juarez in scoring a dull decision recently.

"Morales will try anything to win and survive," said Pineda. "But I don’t think he can do to Manny what Barrera did to Juarez. For one thing, Manny’s a lot faster than Juarez. And he’s a lot smarter."

Although Pacquiao is not looking beyond Morales, Pineda said plans are now being laid out by Oscar de la Hoya for the Pacman’s schedule next year. Pacquiao recently signed a seven-fight deal with de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.

Pineda said Pacquiao’s affiliation with de la Hoya brings a dangerous dimension to the Morales fight which is promoted by Golden Boy’s archrival Top Rank.

"Morales is promoted by Top Rank and Bob Arum," said Pineda. "With Manny signed to Golden Boy, Top Rank will obviously want Morales to win. In a close fight, I don’t think the judges will give the decision to Manny. That only means for Manny to make sure he wins, he’s got to knock out Morales again. He did it once before so there’s no reason why he can’t do it again."

Pineda said there’s a special bond between Pacquiao and de la Hoya because they’re both fighters and they understand each other.

"De la Hoya doesn’t want Manny to fight two consecutive hard fights," said Pineda. "He knows how a fighter feels because he’s a fighter himself. De la Hoya plans to space out the big money fights and put in tune-ups in between so Manny doesn’t burn out. Look at what Morales’ promoters did to him. At 30, he’s taken a heavy toll because they kept on giving him hard fights."

Pineda said it looks like Pacquiao will take on Barrera in a much-awaited rematch in June or July next year. A tune-up in March, possibly at the new Wynn Hotel and Casino in Macau, is an option.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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