MANILA, JUNE 4, 2008
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - As far as the betting public is concerned, Manny Pacquiao’s chances of beating David Diaz are just getting bigger.

From –360 for Pacquiao and +280 for Diaz a week ago, the odds being posted on the Internet have made a tremendous jump, placing the Pinoy challenger at –450 and the American champion at +325, meaning a $450 bet on Pacquiao will win a hundred bucks while a $100 wager on Diaz, the reigning WBC lightweight champion, gives a dividend of $325.

The odds may even go higher in favor of Pacquiao as the fight, scheduled for 12 rounds at the 12,000-seat Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, comes closer.

It’s just 24 days to go before the fight, and fight fans have started pushing the buttons, placing their bets on-line, and hoping that they get things right – whether it’s for Pacquiao or Diaz.

Pacquiao has played the same role of heavy favorite in most of his recent fights, even when he was facing the legendary Erik Morales in three great fights in less than two years.

Since losing to Morales on points, on March 19, 2005 at the MGM, Pacquiao has won all his seven bouts, four of them by knockout.

Pacquiao was also the heavy favorite when he fought Marco Antonio Barrera last year and Juan Manuel Marquez last March.

But for the Pinoy sensation, it’s nothing to feel safe about.

“I don’t believe in the odds because anything can happen inside the ring,” said Pacquiao, now in the crucial phase of his training under Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles.

For Diaz, on the other hand, the odds, especially this one favoring his opponent, only serve as a driving force.

“It motivates me to know that the people do not trust me,” he told the Mexican press recently.

Lucky to be alive SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson Wednesday, June 4, 2008

When Sonny Cabatu left Manila to play a series of exhibition games with the PBA Legends in the US last March, he had no premonition of an impending tragedy.

Cabatu, 47, finished the Legends tour and was with friends in Long Beach when he took ill. It started with a fainting spell in a Filipino store where he just bought load for his cellphone. He didn’t know what came over him. What he remembered was losing consciousness and being helped into a car.

After 10 minutes, Cabatu collapsed again, this time as he was about to enter a friend’s home. An ambulance came to rush Cabatu to the hospital.

As he was stretched out in the emergency room, Cabatu thought he wouldn’t live to see another day. The blood pressure gauge showed no reading. He was numb from the waist down. Something was wrong. He felt like sleeping but his friends told him to stay awake because there was a chance he couldn’t be revived.

Tests revealed Cabatu had a urinary tract infection that caused his white blood cells to shoot up to 25,000 where the normal range is 5,000 to 10,000. His red blood cells dropped precipitously, triggering shock that nearly wiped out his blood pressure.

Aggravating the situation was a battered spleen. When Cabatu blacked out for the second time, he fell with a thud and hurt his side. Because of his body weight, the spleen was damaged during the fall.

* * *

As Cabatu stayed in the hospital for more tests, his immobility resulted in another problem. He developed an embolism and doctors saw two blood clots travel towards his heart in a life-threatening situation. To prevent the movement of the clots, doctors inserted a filter in his stomach.

Eventually, Cabatu regained his health. He was confined in the hospital for 18 days and lost 20 pounds. What would’ve killed him was the $250,000 medical bill but his friends arranged for a 100 percent subsidy.

Cabatu said he wouldn’t have pulled through if not for his friends and the Filipino medical staff at the Long Beach hospital. Perhaps, it was providential the incident happened in the US because here, Cabatu wouldn’t have gotten a break in the hospital expenses.

“I was in a room with one other patient and during my stay, they had three patient changes,” said Cabatu. “I don’t know what happened to my roommates, if they died or not. I didn’t want to know. The doctors and nurses took good care of me. They gave me lots of medicine for free. I learned how to inject myself in the stomach to dissolve my blood clots when I was released from the hospital. What probably saved me was my history as an athlete. God gave me new life and I owe it all to Him.”

Cabatu said when news of his hospitalization spread, he was dismayed by rumors that he had cancer or a bad liver or malfunctioning kidneys.

“The truth is I had an infection because of a virus,” said Cabatu. “It got very complicated when I had blood clots. Today, I’m taking my maintenance medicine for blood pressure, which is stable at 130 over 80. Doctors advised me not to play for five months until I’m fully recovered. I’ve already regained 10 pounds.”

* * *

Cabatu is now back in town and after a long absence, returned to the PBA as a radio analyst last Sunday.

“I think I can still play and dominate an international father and son league with Jun-Jun (who plays for Alaska),” he said.

“Jun-Jun and I will be competitive for sure. I know we can beat even Bill Walton and his son Luke. Bill is too old and his legs are too weak. Most big men can’t move as well as I can at my age.”

What about playing against his former coach Sonny Jaworski and his son Dodot?

Cabatu, with his impish smile, had no comment.

Throughout his ordeal, Cabatu never lost his sense of humor, which kept him going. Now that he’s on the way to complete recovery, Cabatu said he’s determined to make the most of his new lease on life.

Postscript: PBA statistics chief Fidel Mangonon said in the coming draft, Air21 has three first round picks negotiated from trades and Talk ‘N’ Text gained an extra first round slot which came from Coca-Cola in the Asi Taulava-Ali Peek trade …. Purefoods star James Yap is actively promoting Sencillo, which offers catering services for parties, events and meetings. For inquires, Yap is inviting interested parties to Sencillo Esquinita at Trinoma.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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