MANILA, MAY 18, 2008
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - Freddie Norwood, one of only four fighters who have defeated Juan Manuel Marquez, has been tapped as one of Manny Pacquiao’s sparring partners as the Filipino icon prepares for his June 28 battle with David Diaz.

Norwood, according to Pacquiao’s chief trainer Freddie Roach, has been handed his call slip. The boxing guru, owner of the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, said sparring with Norwood should begin next week.

But according to, the 38-year-old Norwood is scheduled to face Johnnie Edwards on May 21 in Jacksonville in North Carolina. It will be a rematch of their 2007 battle won by Edwards in six rounds.

Norwood beat Marquez on points in their featherweight contest on Sept. 11, 1999. Before that Marquez has only lost once, and after that setback came two more against Chris John in 2006 and Pacquiao last March 15.

Aside from Norwood, also being tapped to spar with Pacquiao is upcoming Victor Ortiz.

Pacquiao arrived in Los Angeles last Monday to begin his six-week heavy training for the Diaz bout set in Las Vegas. Diaz, a member of the US team to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, is putting his WBC lightweight crown on the line.

Pacquiao has been to the gym a couple of times since he flew in. Last Wednesday reports said he overslept in the afternoon and worked out at 6 p.m. but was back on time the next two days.

Pacquiao, according to his LA-based wingman Winchell Campos, worked out at the gym Friday under Buboy Fernandez because Roach was in Mexico during the day.

On Tuesday evening, Pacquiao is set to fly to Chicago for a scheduled press conference the following day.

Norwood was the WBA featherweight champion from May 1999 until September 2000 when he took the first loss of his career against Derrick Gainer. He has won three of his four fights as a lightweight.

Norwood is a southpaw and stands 5’6 1/2”. He is known as “Lil Hagler” and comes from Missouri. He has 42 wins (35 of them by knockout) and has only lost twice in a career that began in 1989.

In 1997, Norwood defeated Agapito Sanchez who faced Pacquiao in 2001 in San Francisco. Referee Marty Denkin stopped the bout in the sixth round due to a terrible cut on Pacquiao’s right eye caused by an accidental headbutt.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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