(STAR) By Abac Cordero – Juan Manuel Marquez. Edwin Valero. Joan Guzman. Humberto Soto.

Sorry guys. Manny Pacquiao wants David Diaz.

“Manny told me he wants him,” said trainer Freddie Roach late Saturday night, moments after Pacquiao, who for the first time seemed to have trouble making 130 lbs, drove past Marco Antonio Barrera at the Mandalay Bay.

“And I’m looking forward to it,” Roach said.

The American trainer said Pacquiao is seriously considering moving up to the 135 lb division and take a crack at Diaz’ lightweight crown.

Pacquiao, in fact, has started asking for some tapes of Diaz’ previous fights, including the one he had and won against Erik Morales in Illinois last August.

“He wants a tape of Diaz fights,” said Hermie Rivera, a Filipino boxing analyst from Team Pacquiao.

“Moving to 135? We’re talking about that. Manny came to this (Barrera) fight at 144 pounds. It seems that 130 has become harder for him to make,” said Roach.

Even before Pacquiao sealed a rematch with Barrera, Marquez, Valero, Guzman and Soto, the biggest names in the super-featherweight class next to Pacquiao, cropped up as the Filipino’s next opponent.

Marquez faces Rocky Juarez, and Guzman takes on Soto in separate fights next month, each one of them hoping to win and face Pacquiao next. They may have to wait.

Diaz was a great amateur before he turned pro in 1996 and won his debut against someone in New Mexico. He now has a professional ring record of 33 wins, a loss and a draw with 17 knockouts.

Diaz’ first and only loss so far was dealt by Kendall Hold, who halted the Mexican-American in eight rounds in 2005 in Connecticut. But he has won seven of his last eight fights with one draw.

Diaz, a stablemate of Pacquiao’s at Top Rank, had a great amateur career that lasted 175 fights. He is a three-time Golden Gloves champion, and as a lightweight made it to the second round of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

He was practically born as a lightweight.

And Pacquiao wants him next.

Manny to climb ring again February Tuesday, October 9, 2007

LAS VEGAS – Whether it will be against reigning World Boxing Council super featherweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez or world lightweight champion David Diaz, Manny Pacquiao is looking for a February date for his next fight.

In an interview with, Roach said that while there is nothing definite yet on Pacquiao’s next fight “most people want to see a rematch with Marquez.”

Roach admitted that a Marquez rematch would be “a tough fight” but didn’t seem concerned about moving up in weight to fight David Diaz saying Pacquiao is strong.

The morning after the victory, Pacquiao received more than a hundred guests at his spacious penthouse suite, signing autographs and having his pictures taken with them.

A Holy Mass was held at 10 a.m.

Pacquiao, with a boosted ego and bruises on his face, said the decision to move up to the higher division is not yet final. He said it will really depend on future negotiations on who and where he’s fight next.

“There’s nothing final yet. But I can do it at 130 or 135. I think I can handle both divisions. Whoever the opponent is and wherever but probably my next fight will be in February,” he said in a very calm voice.

Fighting in February or less than four months before Saturday’s means that Pacquiao could be planning to stage three fights next year, the second one either in June of July and the third either in October or November.

Pacquiao fought thrice last year, against Erik Morales in January and November, and Oscar Larios in July. He won all fights via knockout. With the year about to end, he has only fought twice, the first against Jorge Solis last April. – Abac Cordero

Manny sets up US company By Joaquin Henson Tuesday, October 9, 2007

LAS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao has contracted the services of a San Diego financial planner and investment consultant to manage his newly-organized US company, a source close to the Filipino boxing icon disclosed the other day.

The Las Vegas-based company is called MP Promotions USA and the president is Pacquiao’s brother Rogel. It will consolidate Pacquiao’s assets in the US.

“Manny wants his finances in order,” said the source. “We’re lucky that a financial planner, who’s a former IRS agent, has agreed to help out Manny, particularly in relation to taxes he has to pay.”

The financial planner is known for his list of celebrity clients, including athletes like Erik Morales.

Now that Top Rank and Golden Boy are in talking terms, opportunities for big fights are opening up for Pacquiao.

“I think Top Rank and Golden Boy getting together is good for boxing as a whole,” said the source. “And since Golden Boy has a lot of top fighters in Manny’s division, he can select his next opponent from a wide range of contenders. The partnership made possible Manny’s rematch against (Marco Antonio) Barrera and it’s also making possible the coming fights between Humberto Soto and Joan Guzman and Miguel Cotto and Sugar Shane Mosley.”

In agreeing to work as co-promoters, Top Rank and Golden Boy dropped the cases they filed against each other. The only pending case is Golden Boy’s suit against Pacquiao’s legal counsel Franklin (Jeng) Gacal and adviser Michael Koncz. But the case is as good as dropped with only the formality of informing the court holding it up.

The bitter rivalry stemmed from Oscar de la Hoya breaking away from Top Rank and organizing his own promotions company, Golden Boy, with Richard Schaefer and Eric Gomez. It took Pacquiao to resolve the dispute, paving the way for the parties to smoke the peace pipe.

Pacquiao recently said he intends to see action in three or four fights a year, depending on the degree of difficulty he encounters along the way. If the Barrera rematch ended early, Pacquiao would’ve signed for another fight in December. But since it went the distance, he may take a little longer to return to the ring. Besides, he still has a few scenes to shoot for his Metro Manila Film Festival entry “Anak Ni Kumander,” due for release in December.

The source said Macau is looming to be the hottest candidate as host of Pacquiao’s next fight. Vancouver is another possibility. A city in Mainland China is also an option.

Before Pacquiao struggled to make the 130-pound limit for Barrera, there was talk he would make his superfeatherweight farewell in his next fight then move up to lightweight. But it now appears Pacquiao will go straight to the 135-pound ranks.

The night before the weigh-in last Friday, Pacquiao tipped the scales four pounds over the limit and had to skip rope early the next morning to shed off some weight. He wrapped himself in a thick blanket from head to foot and squeezed himself dry only to scale a half-pound over just an hour before the weigh-in.

Pacquiao wept in exasperation and prayed for some kind of Divine Intervention, related his General Santos City friend Clem Asencio. Just when it seemed like Pacquiao had exhausted every avenue to lose weight, his stomach suddenly hurt and he rushed to the toilet. After relieving himself, Pacquiao was right on the button at 130 pounds. His prayers were answered.

If Pacquiao invades the lightweight division, the source said his target will be WBC champion David Diaz who barely decisioned Morales in his latest defense. Morales recently said he will unretire to face Diaz in a January rematch but Top Rank officials are reportedly urging him to stay retired.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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