NOVEMBER 15, 2006
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - Erik Morales was slippery as an eel Monday evening, granting no interviews and turning his back on Filipino mediamen who waited for two hours for his arrival at the Wynn Hotel here.

Morales needed several hours to get to Las Vegas from Mexico. He boarded a private plane from Toluca for Texas for a brief customs inspection before flying to Las Vegas.

From the Vegas airport, Morales was whisked to the extravagant Wynn Hotel on board a black Ford Excursion. He arrived shortly after 11 p.m. with a handful team members, including his father-trainer Jose.

But instead of facing the media, a practice which he’d done days before his first two fights with Manny Pacquiao, Morales walked straight to the hotel lobby and into a waiting elevator.

Wearing a safari jacket, blue jeans and casual shoes, and holding a cellular phone, Morales leaned his head sideways each time a camera was held near him.

Morales’ face looked thin and not really gaunt. But nothing can be said of his body since he appeared to be wearing probably three layers of clothing.

His eyes, however, looked sharp as ever.

Pacquiao was already tucked in by the time Morales stepped into the hotel. The Filipino slugger arrived in Vegas Sunday afternoon.

Morales has been having great difficulty making the 130 lb weight limit for the coming fight. And if he’s still over the limit, then he has less than five days to make it.

Morales will hold a press workout on Wednesday at the Top Rank Gym here in Vegas, then the final press conference on Thursday and the official weigh-in on Friday at Wynn Hotel.

Even ABS-CBN sportscaster Dyan Castillejo, who speaks fluent Spanish, failed to get a word with Morales whom she had visited in his training camp in the Otomi mountains a month ago.

Cameraman Rene Casibang of ABS-CBN, however, got hold of some footages of Morales up until the elevator door closed.

Earlier in the evening, Ricardo Jimenez of Top Rank gave out some details of Morales’ arrival, but said the 30-year-old boxer had no plans of being interviewed by the media.

‘Morales will go for early KO’ The Philippine Star 11/15/2006

LAS VEGAS — Here’s a quick look at Erik Morales’ battleplan through Manny Pacquiao’s crystal ball.

"He will try to knock me out in the first five rounds," Pacquiao told Manila-based scribes inside his $650-dollar-a-night suite at the Wynn Hotel Monday morning.

"He will really try because those are the rounds where his chances are better. He’s stronger in the early rounds since he’s not yet tired," said Pacquiao, who spoke in Filipino.

"That’s what I see. That’s what we see," he said.

And if that doesn’t happen?

"Well, we’ll see again. But he can also use the ring and run. If he gets hurt he will run. But I’m not really sure because Morales has a lot of pride in himself and he might slug it out," Pacquiao added.

The Filipino southpaw, a certified knockout artist, warned that Morales, if he elects to slug it out, should be extra careful.

"If he comes at me he better be sure that he defends well because I have a very strong right hook," he said.

Pacquiao lost to Morales in 12 rounds in March last year but came back with a 10th round knockout last January.

"But there will be no excuses after the fight. Whatever happens to him or to me, there should be no excuses. Let’s just get it on," Pacquiao said. — Abac Cordero

Fight odds make Manny uneasy By Abac Cordero The Philippine Star 11/15/2006

LAS VEGAS — Manny Pacquiao isn’t too happy being tagged as the overwhelming favorite.

Or at least, that’s the way he sounded.

"Sobra naman ang tiwala nila sa akin (They’re putting too much trust on me)," said Pacquiao Monday, the day the odds on his upcoming fight against Erik Morales continued to soar to his favor.

From -210 Sunday evening, Pacquiao is now -220 at Sports Book, the official and state-of-the-art betting station in this luminous city of 24-hour parties and non-stop entertainment.

It means that a straight bet of $220 on a Pacquiao win would win just $100. On the other side, Morales is at +190 in that a $100 bet would net $190, a dividend as handsome as the Mexican fighter.

When the Sports Book betting opened a few days back, the 27-year-old Pacquiao was already the clear favorite. He was -185 while the 30-year-old Morales was at +165.

There are a more than dozen betting propositions for the 12-round fight scheduled Saturday at the Thomas and Mack Center. It’s the third and decisive fight between the two.

Sports fans can also place bets that the fight will go 12 rounds (-155) or that it won’t go 12 rounds (+135). With only five days before the fight, there are more who believe that the fight would last the distance.

People can also bet on Morales winning by decision (5/2) or knockout (4/1), Pacquiao by decision (7/5) or knockout (2/1), and if the fight would end up in a draw where the odds are biggest at 12/1.

Then there’s the round-by-round proposition with either Morales or Pacquiao winning via knockout in the first round, all the way to the second, third, fourth, fifth and so on.

The odds of Morales winning by KO in the first three rounds are 25/1 and for Pacquiao it’s 20/1 under the same scenario.

Pacquiao, who also played the role of the favorite in his first two meetings with Morales, said it doesn’t really matter what the oddsmakers say before the fight.

"Papel lang kasi ito eh (This is just a piece of paper)," said Pacquiao as he held the latest print-out of the Sports Book betting guide for Saturday’s blockbuster fight.

He said everything becomes even the moment the fighters climb the ring.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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