NOVEMBER 19, 2006
(STAR) By Joaquin Henson - Trainer Freddie Roach said yesterday Manny Pacquiao will unravel something new in his 12-round bout against Erik Morales at the Thomas and Mack Center here this morning (Manila time).

There will be a marked improvement in the way he throws his right hook, the way he moves his head to deflect the impact of Morales’ punches and the way he spins away after unleashing a combination.

But the surprise will come in his footwork. That’s been the new facet that Roach worked on for two months with Pacquiao at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles.

"You’ll see a big difference in Manny’s footwork," said Roach. "This is his third fight against Morales and Manny will be better than he was when he won by knockout in the second bout. He’ll go straight for Morales. He won’t let him go and Morales won’t go far."

Roach said he expects Morales to stand up and engage.

"Morales chose to use the Reyes gloves which are suited for hard hitters," said Roach. "He wore the Japanese-made Winning gloves before because they’re more suited for boxers. But with his brittle hands, Morales is gambling on an early knockout because he doesn’t think he can go too long with Manny. If he decides to run, Manny will catch him and take him out just the same."

Roach said Morales will come forward and not fight backwards.

Top Rank Promotions head Bob Arum confirmed Roach’s analysis.

"Trust me, Morales isn’t going to run against Pacquiao," said Arum. "He’s too proud a warrior not to face Pacquiao head-on. It’ll be a total war between two great fighters."

Arum said while scanning the internet for news on "The Grand Finale" a few days ago, he came across a Philippine Star story about a Catholic bishop declaring it’s not a sin to bet for Pacquiao against Morales.

"Yup, it was a Philippine Star story and I got a big kick out of it," said Arum. "It was a great story, something very different."

Meanwhile, ring announcer Michael Buffer told The Star he predicts Pacquiao to beat Morales in a "helluva" fight.

"I can’t tell you if Pacquiao will win by knockout or decision, that’s too tough to call," said Buffer. "But I think he’ll win."

Buffer, who was in Manila for Pacquiao’s fight against Oscar Larios last July, said he will never forget his visit to the Philippines.

"The Filipino fans are fantastic," said Buffer. "They’re up there with the best fans in the world, like those passionate fans in Manchester, England, cheering for their hero Ricky Hatton. After all, Manny is a living, breathing legend. The Philippines is a great country and the Filipinos are a warm and friendly people. I will always have fond memories of my visit to Manila."

Pacquiao spends P4.5 million for friends’ tickets By Abac Cordero The Philippine Star 11/19/2006

Tickets to the Grand Finale are the hottest in town. In fact, as early as a few days ago, acquiring a good seat is almost as difficult as hitting a royal flush.

Manny Pacquiao’s closest handlers have been swamped with requests for tickets from the boxer’s friends, including those from politics and show business and even those already based here in the United States.

Pacquiao reportedly spent $90,000 or nearly P4.5 million on tickets that he gave away.

"There are just too many people asking tickets from Manny. The problem is Manny just doesn’t know how to say no to friends," said Cris Aquino, one of the biggest supporters of the Filipino boxing hero.

Aquino, the perennial flag bearer in Pacquiao fights, bought 17 tickets worth $500 each. "These were errands for friends who gave me their money ahead of time. But I’m still receiving some calls from friends who made last-minute decisions to fly in for the fight. But the tickets are sold out. Bahala na sila," he said.

* * *

Marco Antonio Barrera, the reigning World Boxing Council champion in the 130-pound division, was spotted at the casino area of the Wynn Hotel Friday evening, and said he flew in to watch the Grand Finale at the Thomas and Mack Center Saturday.

Barrera was with a handful supporters, according to LA-based Filipino Jun Regalado, who had his picture taken with the Mexican assassin recently ordered by the WBC to face the winner of Saturday’s contest.

Regalado, who has his own line of sports shades, also bumped into former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson at Wynn Hotel a few nights ago. He asked Tyson that if he gave him the shades he was wearing would the heavyweight have his picture taken with him?

"He said yes. So, we had our picture taken together. And I gave him my shades," said Regalado.

* * *

Following his disappointing loss to Hector Velasquez the other night at the Hard Rock Hotel, Bobby Pacquiao was clearly up on his feet. He came to the official weigh-in of his elder brother Manny and Erik Morales at the Thomas and Mack Center in the afternoon and was roaming the hotel lobby in the evening.

Bobby was with his wife. He was wearing an all-red Team Pacquiao uniform, and had a cap and shades on to hide a big lump on his forehead. He said it was a result of a headbutt during the fight where he was disqualified by the referee for three low blows on the Mexican.

"I’m okay now. I’m just fine," said Bobby who yielded the WBC Continental Americas super-featherweight crown to the same Mexican, a sixth-round knockout victim of Manny last September at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved