FROM LONDON:  TOO  CLOSE  TO  CALL

LONDON, MARCH 14, 2008
(STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson Thursday, March 13, 2008 LONDON – Four top outspoken British boxing writers are surprisingly hesitant to predict who will wind up unfinished business in Las Vegas this weekend but they’re sure of one thing – the rematch between WBC superfeatherweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez and challenger Manny Pacquiao will be a humdinger.

“Pandemonium has to be defined in Webster’s as a Manny Pacquiao fight,” wrote Joe Rein in Boxing News, the weekly trade magazine published here. “It’s a wonder the casino can get insurance, considering the earthquake Pac and JMM caused almost four years ago at the MGM Grand. Mark it on your calendar, tattoo it on our chest, this is one Ides of March even Caesar wouldn’t miss.”

Rein wouldn’t pick a winner just like Boxing News editor Claude Abrams.

“Style-wise, Marquez is a nightmare for Pacquiao,” continued Rein. “Pac’s developed a formidable right hook to complement his closer. (The first fight was) total deflation for the fighters, camps and crowd. All the explosions ended with a whimper. It wasn’t unjust…just unthinkable. Because the first fight was an absolutely incredible experience, don’t miss this second world war.”

Rein said stunned silence greeted the verdict which was a split draw. Marquez was decked thrice in the first round but came back to make it close.

“Marquez, by instinct, fended Pacquiao off with a right held high, moving clockwise, keeping his defense solid, trying to gather himself,” said Rein. “Amazingly, his technique and resolve kept him upright under Pac’s furious attempts to get home with that left again. Marquez not only remained conscious but, impossibly, with ring generalship and strategic jabs, earned the second round on this card. The corpse was coming to life.

“Marquez had skill, balance, punching power and he was mixing up his combinations. He also had what every great fighter must have – corazon (heart).”

Graham Houston, writing for another London magazine Boxing Monthly, said Marquez should have won the first fight.

“Marquez’ rally was one of the most astonishing I can recall,” said Houston. “Not only was he dropped three times but his nose had been bloodied by the left hand smashes from Pacquiao’s southpaw stance.”

But Houston said it will be different in the rematch because of the weight limit. In their first fight, the limit was 126 pounds. In the rematch, it will be 130.

“Since the last fight, Marquez has had his ups and downs,” said Houston. “He lost his featherweight title to Chris John in Indonesia but defeated Marco Antonio Barrera in the superfeatherweight division in March and soundly outpointed Rocky Juarez in his last fight. He looks as good as he has ever done at 34 – fast, sharp, beautiful jabs and combinations.

“Pacquiao, 29, has had the trilogy with Erik Morales since meeting Marquez and he easily outpointed Barrera in his last fight.”

Like Rein and Abrams, Houston had no prediction for the rematch.

Ron Borges, also a Boxing Monthly writer, said the coming bout will answer the question of who is the biggest little big man in boxing or at least, who is the baddest.

Manny hits the right key By Abac Cordero Friday, March 14, 2008

LAS VEGAS – He played a few tricks with a deck of cards during Wednesday’s press conference, and later in the day played a few songs on his electric guitar inside his Mandalay Bay suite.

“I like it when you’re fighter is happy,” said Freddie Roach who quietly gave out instructions to fellow trainers Buboy Fernandez and Nonoy Neri as Manny Pacquiao belted it out with his expensive Fender guitar.

Pacquiao was in a very jolly mood the whole day, and he treated guests at his suite to a few songs, including the latest, which composer Lito Camo had arranged for the boxer, who’s also into recording.

The refrain goes like this: “May tulog yan! May tulog yan! Bagsak na yan! Bagsak na yan!” — referring of course to Juan Manuel Marquez.

“I love where’s he’s at right now,” added Roach, who in the cold morning joined Pacquiao for a 30-minute jog at the UNLV compound, and a very brief stint at the IBA Gym, which came after the press conference.

At Mandalay Bay’s Foundation Room, Pacquiao granted interviews to the foreign press shortly, and gladly obliged when a Mexican crew sought a footage of him shuffling a deck of cards, which they brought along.

Pacquiao even played a magic trick before the mediamen, a pick-a-card trick, and had them rooting and asking for more.

The Mexican TV reporter then asked Pacquiao to pick his favorite from among the deck of cards spread out on the table.

“If you were a card, which one are you?” the reporter asked Pacquiao.

Pacquiao picked not just one card, but two – the ace and king of spade.

“Black Jack!” someone shouted, and everybody, including Pacquiao, laughed.

Thursday will be Pacquiao’s last day at the gym. But it will be a very quick one, just a couple of rounds with the mitts maybe, then a few minutes with the ropes and the speedball.

He might tip the scales once more, in preparation for Friday’s official weigh-in.

Last Wednesday he did, and he weighed 132.5 lbs, very manageable considering that he hasn’t skipped a meal since he got here in Vegas last Monday.

“I just wanted to be sure so I asked him to get on the scales. He was 132 and a half,” said Roach, so confident that by Saturday, in the official weigh-in, Pacquiao would comfortably make the 130 lb limit.

“He skips a couple of meals, probably dinner of Thursday and lunch of Friday, and he’s in. I see him coming in at 130,” said Roach.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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