MANILA, MAY 1, 2008
(STAR) By Joaquin Henson - Boxing trainer Buboy Fernandez said yesterday Manny Pacquiao can’t afford to take chances against WBC lightweight champion David Diaz when they face off in Las Vegas on June 28 because the Mexican-American is unpredictable in the ring.

Fernandez flies from his Bicol home to Cebu today to start workouts with Pacquiao in Rex (Wakee) Salud’s gym. After a week, they leave for Los Angeles to hook up with Freddie Roach. In all, Pacquiao will train seven weeks for Diaz.

In two fights that Fernandez has studied Diaz’ style, he said the 135-pound titlist used different modes of attack. Against Erik Morales last year, Diaz showed movement and relied on volume punching to win via a unanimous 12-round decision. Against Ramon Montano last March, he bored in and plodded his way to a majority 10-round verdict.

But Fernandez said basically, Diaz likes to engage and doesn’t back off, meaning he’ll be an easy target for Pacquiao.

“There will be pressure on Manny in this fight,” said Fernandez. “First, he’s moving up to lightweight. This is his first fight at 135 and it’s for the title. We don’t know if he can hurt Diaz who’s bigger. Second, he’s the challenger. But he’s used to pressure. As long as he’s prepared, there’s no way Diaz can win.”

Fernandez hesitated to predict if the fight will go the distance or not. “It will depend on what kind of fight develops,” he continued. “It’s difficult to predict because both are very durable. The way I see it, Manny will take his time in the early rounds. He won’t rush in. He’ll jab and measure Diaz. He’ll study how Diaz moves and feel his power then we’ll adjust along the way. We’ll be careful at the start because this is a new ball game.”

Training seven weeks for Diaz should be enough, said Fernandez. “The plan is to work in Cebu for a week,” he went on. “Manny just came from a hard fight (against Juan Manuel Marquez) where he was cut. He’ll make up by training six weeks in L. A. There’s enough time.”

Fernandez said plastic surgeon Dr. Jerry Roth did a good job sewing up Pacquiao’s cuts from the Marquez fight with 18 stitches that were hardly noticeable.

“The wounds healed quickly and because of the way they were sewn, it’s like he was never cut,” said Fernandez. “Manny has also been swimming in the sea because salt water is good for healing wounds.”

Fernandez said he doesn’t anticipate a problem for Pacquiao facing a southpaw like himself. “Manny took care of Fahsang (3-K Battery) and (Jorge) Julio who were both lefthanded,” said Fernandez. “Fighting a southpaw makes no difference. Manny is an intelligent fighter. He’ll know what to do. What we’ll watch for is Diaz’ left uppercut.”

It was the left uppercut that Diaz used to pulverize Jose Armando Santa Cruz in a come-from-behind knockout win two years ago. Diaz was way behind on points when he poleaxed Santa Cruz in the 10th round.

As for Pacquiao, Fernandez said he anticipates the right hand to be an effective weapon against Diaz.

A cause for concern is Diaz’ size.

“Diaz used to fight as a junior welterweight,” said Fernandez. “He’ll weigh in at 135 but enter the ring over 150. Manny weighed in at 129 for Marquez but fought at 149. Maybe, Manny will come in 10 to 15 pounds over 135. Manny knows his body. He’ll come in at the weight he’s most comfortable, where he won’t be slow and sluggish.”

Fernandez said the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s recent decision for fighters from lightweight to welterweight to decide whether to wear eight or 10-ounce gloves is a relief. The previous rule stipulated 10-ounce gloves for lightweights.

“Manny has never fought using 10-ounce gloves so this is a good development,” said Fernandez. “I’m sure Manny will welcome this news. He’ll choose to wear eight-ounce gloves so his power is intact.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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