JOAQUIN  HENSON WRITES:  WALKING  TIGHTROPE 

MANILA, MARCH 14, 2007
(STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson - Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao must like living dangerously. He’s got less than a month to train at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles for Mexican mystery fighter Jorge Solis but that doesn’t seem to bother him.

Pacquiao battles Solis in San Antonio on April 14 and it’s a must-win situation for the Pinoy idol. A loss would be devastating not only for his career as a prizefighter but also for his campaign to unseat Darlene Antonino-Custodio as congressman in the first district of South Cotabato.

But never underestimate Pacquiao. He knows what he’s up against, whether it’s in boxing or in politics.

Pacquiao began training seriously in General Santos City more than two weeks ago. He has postponed his departure for Los Angeles at least thrice, preferring to stay in his hometown because of priority issues.

The word is Top Rank, which is promoting the San Antonio blockbuster, supports Pacquiao’s decision to stay in GenSan. For one, Freddie Roach isn’t in L. A. to supervise his workouts. And for another, there are just too many things in Pacquiao’s mind at the moment that he’s better off splitting hours between training and attending to political matters at home.

"Why force Manny to go early to the US when you know his body will be in L. A. and his mind in GenSan?" said a Pacquiao insider. "Besides, Buboy (Fernandez) has trained long enough under Freddie to know what Manny has to do in the gym to prepare for someone like Solis."

Pacquiao is supposed to fly to L. A. on Saturday but may advance his departure a day to catch Gerry Peñalosa’s fight against WBO superbantamweight champion Daniel Ponce de Leon in Las Vegas.

If Pacquiao doesn’t leave Friday or Saturday, he may just decide to take off later this month. In this eventuality, a source disclosed that an American trainer may be brought over to assist Fernandez and Nonoy Neri with Pacquiao in his workouts. The name of Kenny Adams has been mentioned as an option.

If Pacquiao reports for duty at the Wild Card Gym on Monday, he will only have 19 days of training before tapering off the Monday before his Saturday bout. That’s assuming he trains six days a week and won’t rest on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Justin Fortune will take care of Pacquiao in L. A. as Roach’s sub.

In GenSan, Pacquiao has been feasting on local sparmates Jesar Ancajas, Arniel Tinampay and former Oriental champion Tiger Ari’s nephew Aaron Melgarejo. The three fighters aren’t exactly world-class but they’re big – bigger than Pacquiao, meaning they’re supposed to be able to withstand a lot more punishment than smaller prey. In other words, Pacquiao can afford to go at full strength without holding back.

No wonder Ancajas has already been floored.

For the record, Ancajas has a 15-15-2 record with seven KOs. He turned pro in 2001 and raced to a 6-0 mark. Ancajas once fought Lovemore Ndou for the IBF Pan Pacific superlightweight title and lost by a knockout in two rounds in Sydney. Tinampay’s record is 10-6-1, with two KOs. He has lost his last four outings. Melgarejo has a 12-5-1 record, with four KOs, and is coming off a win over Jojo Arnado.

The advantage of training in L. A. is there are quality sparmates in line.

Doomsday soothsayers are predicting a Solis upset over Pacquiao not because the Mexican is a superior fighter but because Pacman has allowed himself to be swayed by distractions. They point to history in citing examples – Mike Tyson enjoying a celebrity lifestyle with actress Robin Givens instead of concentrating in the gym and as a result, suffering a shock KO loss to Buster Douglas and Lennox Lewis filming a movie rather than focusing on training and consequently, losing to Hasim Rahman by a stunning stoppage.

Now that Pacquiao has decided to run for congress, his coming fight against Solis becomes even more of a challenge. He’s out to prove that boxing and politics can mix.

Pacman TV rights cost P38M The Philippine Star 03/14/2007

Rex "Wakee" Salud, a long-time confidant of Manny Pacquiao, yesterday confirmed that Solar Sports will pay the Filipino boxing icon $800,000 (roughly P38 million) for the rights to cover the April 14 fight with Mexican Jorge Solis on free television.

"That’s just for free TV, that does not include the upsides on closed circuits nationwide," Salud said in an interview with Philboxing.com.

ABS-CBN, the giant television network which covered Pacquiao’s last fight with Erik Morales, did not match Solar Sports’ offer since the price was already four times higher than their previous cash out, according to sources.

However, ABS-CBN earned the rights to telecast the other fight cards – the Marco Antonio Barrera-Juan Manuel Marquez clash on Sunday plus the Gerry Peñalosa versus Daniel Ponce De Leon showdown.

But ABS-CBN’s biggest catch is the May 5 superbout between Oscar De la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, which dwarfs the Pacquiao-Solis fight in terms of prestige and magnitude.

The Pacquiao-Solis telecast also serves as part of Solar Sports’ commitment to bring the world’s biggest sporting events to Filipino households.

Aside from giving the blow-by-blow accounts of the fight, the country’s leading sports channel will also cover the fighters’ training camp and hold viewing parties in malls and sports bars nationwide.

Although Solis is not in the mold of Barrera or Marquez, experts believe the unbeaten Mexican slugger remains a threat to Pacquiao.

Solis totes a 32-0-2 (win-loss-draw) record with 23 knockouts while Pacquiao packs a 43-3-2 mark with 34 KOs.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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