MANILA, MAY 4, 2008
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - Manny Pacquiao tipped the scales at 146 lbs yesterday then assured everyone that there shouldn’t be any problem in his preparation for the June 28 fight against David Diaz.

The 29-year-old boxer, who shoots for a fourth world title in different divisions when he faces Diaz at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, talked about the coming fight and his training schedule.

He weighed 146 lbs, with clothes on before he climbed the ring at the Wild Card Gym in Parañaque. With still 55 days before the fight, he sees no problem at all making the 135 lb limit.

Pacquiao kicked off his training in Gen. Santos City Thursday. He was in Manila Friday morning, honored some commitments and worked out at the gym owned by his former business manager Rod Nazario in the evening.

“I will be back in Gen. Santos on Monday and train there until Friday. I’m leaving for Los Angeles on Saturday evening but in the afternoon I will train here,” said Pacquiao.

He arrives in LA on May 10, a Saturday, and should report to Freddie Roach at the Wild Car Gym in Hollywood on Monday. He said sparring can begin after one week, and sees 120 rounds at least.

He said it doesn’t matter to him if Diaz had the head-start in training as the reigning WBC lightweight champion started working out last April 19 at the JAB Gym in Chicago, his hometown.

“He didn’t suffer a cut in his last fight that’s why he was able to train earlier. But I’m not late either. With seven weeks in LA and a week here everything is just fine,” he said.

“I’m not taking anything for granted. Hindi ako nag-pabaya sa sarili ko. I know I have to be one hundred percent ready for Diaz. I may be faster but I cannot be over-confident.”

Pacquiao said Diaz is not the champion for nothing.

“We cannot underestimate his capabilities,” said the reigning WBC super-featherweight champion who has decided to move up in weight after beating Juan Manuel Marquez last April 15.

Pacquiao was wrapping up the one-hour session when his 86-year-old grandmother, whom he fondly calls “Lola Tina,” arrived at the gym with the boxer’s wife Jinkee at around two in the afternoon.

Pacquiao paused momentarily to greet his grandmother who was given a ringside seat. The boxer went back to in-house trainer Ericsson Asilo and later on called it a day.

After a quick lunch of “kare-kare” and rice, Pacquiao enjoyed some moments with friends like Nazario, Gerry Garcia and Moi Laines before leaving the gym for another commitment.

He was scheduled to fly to Cebu last night to watch Rodel Mayol in action against a Thai opponent.

Diaz will fall when Manny connects By Joaquin Henson Sunday, May 4, 2008

There’s no doubt in Rex (Wakee) Salud’s mind that when Manny Pacquiao connects, WBC lightweight champion David Diaz will fall even if the 1996 Atlanta Olympian is bigger and wider.

Salud, who is one of Pacquiao’s boxing advisers, told The STAR the other day he is convinced Diaz will not be able to withstand the Filipino icon’s power despite the size difference. And because Diaz is slow, he’ll be an easy target.

Diaz used to campaign as a junior welterweight and dropped down to lightweight for the chance to win a world crown. Pacquiao, the WBC superfeatherweight titlist, is moving up to the 135-pound division for the first time in an attempt to win his fourth world championship. They’ll slug it out in a much-awaited battle of champions at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on June 28.

“We know Diaz is durable,” said Salud. “But Manny’s power is incredible. Once Manny connects, Diaz will go down. Many years ago when Manny was a flyweight, he sparred with the Oriental welterweight champion from Japan and knocked him out. That’s how strong he is. Manny put the Japanese to sleep even if they were about 30 pounds apart. Now, Manny’s bigger and stronger.”

Salud said he’s not worried that Diaz will enter the fight outweighing Pacquiao by about 10 pounds.

“The bigger Diaz is, the slower he gets,” said Salud. “What we don’t know is how strong Diaz is. Manny will probably take it easy in the early rounds and test Diaz’ power. (Erik) Morales knocked him down in the first round but Diaz got up to win on points. Diaz has broad shoulders and a wide body. He’s built like a rock. This won’t be an easy fight for Manny.”

Salud said invading the lightweight ranks is the logical next step for Pacquiao and that’s why he’s taking on Diaz.

“His body is maturing,” said Salud. “His bones are getting bigger. Just look at his legs. I think he can still make 130 pounds if he wants to but it’s becoming more and more difficult. Manny will be comfortable at 135. He can eat well and healthy. He won’t lose his quickness with the added weight because he’s growing naturally. On the other hand, Diaz may find it hard to make 135. That will be to our advantage because I expect him to be sluggish and slow.”

Diaz has been stopped only once in his career. In 2005, he was floored by Kendall Holt, a junior welterweight, in the first round but survived to score a knockdown himself in the seventh. But Holt came back to halt Diaz in the eighth. It’s the only loss in Diaz’ career.

Diaz called the loss “a learning experience” and said it taught him the importance of listening to his corner during a fight. He has since bounced back to stay unbeaten in nine bouts in a row, including a draw with Ramazan Palyani. The downside is Diaz has not beaten any marquee opponent and his only “name” victim was a faded Morales who had been knocked out twice by Pacquiao.

Salud said Diaz’ southpaw stance may cause a problem because Pacquiao prefers fighting orthodox opponents.

“Manny likes it better fighting righthanders but it’s just a matter of adjusting,” said Salud. “He’ll have to use his right hand a little more. In the gym, I expect Manny to work on his lateral movement, jab, combinations, head movement and of course, the right hand. Diaz will be coming in so Manny will use movement to keep him offbalance while at the same time, creating angles for his hooks and crosses.”

Pacquiao will train for a week in either Cebu or General Santos City before leaving for Los Angeles on May 10.

Although Diaz is bigger, Pacquiao will find consolation in Bob Fitzsimmons’ popular quote, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” meaning bigger fighters crash harder to the ground when they drop. Fitzsimmons, a middleweight, was outweighed by 16 pounds when he knocked out heavyweight titleholder Jim Corbett in the 14th round in Carson City, Nevada, in 1897.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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