[PHOTO AT LEFT - Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao signs autographs after arriving at the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino Tuesday in Las Vegas. - Photo By AP]

LAS VEGAS, OCTOBER 4, 2007 (STAR) By Abac Cordero – How he intends to do it he was never asked. But Marco Antonio Barrera said Manny Pacquiao and his legions of fans are in for a big surprise on Saturday.

“I will give the Philippines a big surprise,” declared Barrera who looked calm, cool and collected when he faced the media Monday at the Mandalay Bay.

In a scheduled “arrival ceremony” that actually came too late, Pacquiao and Barrera had their turns facing the cameras and fielding some questions, too.

Pacquiao was first to arrive, in a gold, stretch limousine, accompanied by friends. He was asked the same old questions, and gave the same old answers.

Barrera arrived in Las Vegas Sunday evening, and Pacquiao the following night. But, according to plan, they were to be “met” by the media at the front door Tuesday.

“I’m ready for this fight. I know Barrera is one-hundred percent. I am one-hundred percent. But there are no predictions. I don’t do that,” Pacquiao said.

He was asked to look down the road, in November of 2003 in San Antonio, Texas, and said he remembered “knocking out Barrera.”

Pacquiao signed three velvet mats which had his and Barrera’s face on it. They are to be used on gaming tables in the casino (some baccarat tables already had them on).

Immediately after, Pacquiao was brought up to his penthouse suite.

Then Barrera came in, in the same limo, and took his turn facing the media. But unlike Pacquiao, he spoke through an interpreter. His promoter, Oscar dela Hoya, led the welcomers.

“I want to do my best. I want to get this victory. I’m leaving this sport that’s why I trained hard for this fight,” said the retiring boxer from Guadalajara.

Again, he was also asked about that cold November night in Texas.

“I had a very bad night. I didn’t prepare well. That’s why we have to win this fight. Everything will be different. He’s (Pacquiao) the star now but I will do my best,” he said.

Barrera said he will count on his vast experience in trying to overcome Pacquiao. After a few questions, he signed the velvet mat, and left, too.

Just an hour later, they faced the media once again, this time at the Events Center of Mandalay Bay, the fight venue, and where the official ring has already been put up.

The two boxers never got to see each other. Again, Pacquiao came in first, did some shadow boxing on top of the ring, slammed the heavy bag a couple of times, and drilled the speed ball as the cameras clicked away.

“This is good,” he said as he danced, and planted his feet on the ring.

Barrera came a few minutes after Pacquiao had left, following the script to the letter. He went straight up the ring but never danced. He was in a red Lacoste shirt, blue jeans and black leather sandals.

Pacquiao was in shorts, shirt, fighting shoes and a black cap worn in reverse.

After a brief interview, Barrera left the fight venue, where even the cheapest ticket at $100, according to Bob Arum, “is a great seat.”

While in Vegas, the two fighters take separate ways in training, with Barrera running in and around the Wynn Hotel golf course and working out at the Top Rank Gym, and Pacquiao doing his thing at the UNLV track oval and the IBA Gym.

Pacquiao and Barrera will finally come face-to-face Wednesday in a press conference at the House of Blues Music Hall of this grand hotel, and again on Friday for the official weigh-in.

This is how they drum it up here.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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