LAS VEGAS, JUNE 26, 2008
(STAR) Manny Pacquiao said Tuesday he is deeply saddened by the tragic news that 305 persons have been confirmed dead and hundreds more missing in the aftermath of Typhoon “Frank” that hit the Philippines last week.

He also said he is dedicating the fight to the victims of the super typhoon that ravaged the country over the weekend.

“I’m saddened by the news about the death of so many of our countrymen,” he said from his elegant suite at The Hotel of Mandalay Bay where he’s staying in anticipation of his world title fight against David Diaz on Saturday.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) reported the other day that the number of casualties had risen to 305 persons dead and hundreds more still missing after the sinking of Princess of the Stars in the rough waters off Romblon three days ago.

The vessel, with 862 passengers and 121 crew, was on its way to Cebu from Manila when it ran into the path of the typhoon while seeking shelter.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), in its official report, said Frank destroyed 105,374 houses.

Pacquiao said it was very unfortunate incident, adding that he has instructed his people back home to find ways to be of help to the families of the victims.

“I already talked to my own people. I told them to provide assistance to the victims in any little way. And when I come home from this fight, I will find a way to help them personally,” he said.

“Let’s not say what form of help I’d be giving. But I will help,” he said.

“I will dedicate this fight to all the victims,” he vowed. – Abac Cordero

Manny poses toughest test to champ, trainer Thursday, June 26, 2008

LAS VEGAS – David Diaz will run through a brick wall for his 78-year-old manager Jim Strickland.

“I just do what I got to do. If my trainer says ‘go and knock down that wall’ I’m going to go and knock down that wall,” Diaz told mediamen gathered before him inside the Events Center, the venue of the fight, Tuesday noon.

“And Manny is the big wall that I’ve got to go after,” he said.

Diaz and Strickland go a long way back, hooking up when the reigning WBC lightweight champion moved from Florida to Chicago in 2000, four years after representing the US in the LA Olympics.

They won their first fight as partners, against Steve Larrimore, and they never parted ways ever since, even if Diaz stopped boxing for two years only to return with a sixth round knockout of Anthony Cobb in September of 2002.

Diaz’ first and only loss so far after 36 professional fights came in February of 2005 when he was halted by Kendall Holt inside eight rounds. It was an all-win situation from thereon until Diaz took the WBC lightweight crown from Armando Santa Cruz in 2006.

On Saturday, their strong partnership will be tested anew, against Manny Pacquiao, and Diaz said the battle plan has been laid down the table.

“I think we’ve done everything in training. I ran, I jumped rope, I hit the bag. We watched films. We did everything possible. We have a plan and we’ll try to do it,” said Diaz.

“And if it doesn’t work out then it doesn’t work out. Then we go back to the basics of just going forward and throwing punches.”

Strickland, who’s been with past champions like Evander Holyfield, said beating Pacquiao in his own game is not a far-fetched idea.

“We feel pretty confident and we don’t feel anything different about it. Diaz is not being intimidated he’s a little bit more calm than I am,” he said.

“I visualize the fight very much like the Erik Morales. It will go down to the wire,” said Strickland as he looked back to Diaz’ 12-round decision over the future Hall of Famer in August last year.

He said he expects Diaz to climb the ring at around 146 or 147 lbs, and probably a little bigger than Pacquiao.

“I’d be very much surprised if it does not go the distance. And my biggest worry is some bad injury like an eye swollen shut, a bad cut. I hate to see a fight being stopped that way,” he said.

Strickland, like promoter Bob Arum, thinks that all Diaz needs to do is stay in the fight and look for the opportunity in the later rounds.

“If you get far and keep the fight at a distance there’s a chance you can stop him by a knockout,” he told Diaz. – Abac Cordero

Roach: Diaz will need miracle By Abac Cordero Thursday, June 26, 2008

LAS VEGAS – A little cocky, Freddie Roach said only a miracle can save David Diaz against Manny Pacquiao on Saturday at Mandalay Bay (Sunday in Manila).

“For Diaz to win he’ll need a miracle,” said Roach.

Not once, but twice.

Normally soft-spoken, Roach issued the sweeping statement in reaction to Diaz’ own statement that the best way for him to beat Pacquiao is to “put pressure” on the Filipino all night long.

“That’s his only game. That’s all he can do. There’s no surprise if he comes to fight and he comes forward,” said the two-time Trainer of the Year Tuesday morning amid the terrible heat.

Then he assured that even if Diaz puts the pressure on Pacquiao, the world’s No. 1 pound for pound fighter won’t back down.

“Manny won’t break down. He won’t get tired in the later rounds. I don’t see that happening. Manny is in great shape. For Diaz to win he’ll need a miracle.”

Roach just won’t stop there.

He added that Diaz’ two-year reign as the WBC lightweight champion will soon come to an end.

“He believes in himself. Yeah, he’s a champion. But that will change.”

Later on, Diaz just laughed it off.

“I don’t think I need a miracle. I think with my heart and will that should be enough. And with the blessing of the Lord, that’s all that matters,” said Diaz, a very likeable guy.

Even Pacquiao thinks he is.

“Yes, I like him. He’s a nice person. That’s what I like about a boxer. That’s how a boxer should be,” said Pacquiao.

Diaz calmly said Roach is entitled to his own opinion.

“That’s everybody’s opinion. But I have an opinion of myself, too. And the one that comes first is mine,” he said with a little laugh, facing the media, sitting on the edge of the ring to be used for the coming fight.

“What is it about you that cause people to say that?” Diaz was asked by Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports.

“I don’t have an idea. I don’t think they like me,” answered the former member of the US Olympic team.

“But you’re such a nice guy,” said Dyan Castillejo of ABS-CBN.

“I don’t know. But being a nice guy in boxing is a whole different story,” said Diaz.

“But I pay no mind. People are ‘gonna say what they want,” he added.

“Yes, I’m the underdog. And it feels good when you win.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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