Manny Pacquiao takes a late dinner at Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas while trainer Freddie Roach looks on. ABAC CORDERO]

LAS VEGAS, DECEMBER 1, 2008 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - For a change, Manny Pacquiao arrived here in Vegas wearing the underdog tag.

After a slow four-hour ride from Los Angeles, Pacquiao checked in at the luminous Mandalay Bay as the clear underdog for his “Dream Match” against Oscar dela Hoya this coming Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the MGM Grand.

Pacquiao has fought in Vegas eight times over the last seven years, and the last time he was called the underdog was against Lehlo Ledwaba in 2001 and, to some, against Erik Morales in March of 2005.

In Vegas, Pacquiao has won six times, beating the heavily-favored Ledwaba in 2001 in his debut. He beat Erik Morale twice, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez and David Diaz once.

He has only lost once here, during his fight with Morales in 2005, and drew against Marquez a few months earlier.

Against Dela Hoya, Pacquiao is a plus 155 underdog, meaning a wager of $100 wins $155. Dela Hoya is at minus 185, meaning you need $185 to win a hundred bucks.

When this fight was sealed on Aug. 29, the opening odds were even higher in favor of the Golden Boy.

That the fight will go 9 1/2 rounds is at minus 200, and that it won’t go 9 1/2 rounds is at plus 170, meaning that more people believe that it’ll be over inside nine rounds.

Pacquiao is at 3/1 if he wins by decision, and a huge 13/2 if he wins by knockout. Dela Hoya is even winning by decision and 6/5 winning by knockout.

A draw, which is highly improbable, is pegged at 18/1.

Pacquiao is a huge 45/1 if he wins by knockout in the first three rounds, 40/1 until the sixth, 30/1 in the seventh or eighth, 25/1 in the ninth or 10th, and 20/1 in the 11th or 12th rounds.

Dela Hoya is more favored to score a stoppage. He’s only at 20/1 in the first three rounds, 15/1 in the next three, 12/1 in the seventh and eighth, 10/1 until the 11th and back to 12/1 in the final round.

Pacquiao never liked being the favorite, always saying he’d rather be the underdog.

This is his chance, again, to win as one.

Roach says body shots will wear Oscar down Updated December 03, 2008 12:00 AM

[PHOTO AT LEFT - Boxing icon Oscar dela Hoya lifts his arms in front of a newly unveiled seven-foot-tall bronze statue of himself at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles on Monday. Dela Hoya later left for Las Vegas for his ‘Dream Match’ wih Manny Pacquiao. AP]

LAS VEGAS – Freddie Roach is sticking to his game plan: Wear Oscar dela Hoya down with body shots then go for the kill.

“We fight the way we fight,” said the American trainer late Monday evening shortly after Team Pacquiao checked in at The Hotel of Mandalay Bay.

Roach stopped by at Pacquiao’s 61st floor suite to get his room assignment, and as he left talked about their plans on how to work the fight.

“We will break his body down. I think we can get him. I do,” he said in one of the carpeted hallway of the majestic hotel here in Sin City.

Roach, like everyone else who had seen the Dela Hoya the past few days, believes that the 35-year-old former Olympic champion is in great shape.

“Oscar is in great shape I know it,” said Roach.

But again, that doesn’t mean that the kinks in his armor are gone.

“He’s weak in the body. That’s where he gets hurt. (Felix) Trinidad hurt him there, (Bernard) Hopkins knocked him out,” said Roach.

“He fades. He fades in slow-paced fights. And Manny Pacquiao is a fast-paced fighter. We have to make it work.”

Trinidad owns the distinction of being the first fighter to beat Dela Hoya as a pro when he scored a 12-round majority decision in 1999 against the boxer who won his first 31 fights.

Dela Hoya lost twice to Shane Mosley (in 2000 and 2003) and, as age started to slow him down, lost two more to Hopkins in 2004 and Floyd Mayweather Jr. last year.

Hopkins knocked out Dela Hoya for the first time in his career – using a big shot to the left side of the body. Dela Hoya went down in pain.

Roach thinks that the same body shot would give Pacquiao the victory inside nine rounds. Dela Hoya countered by saying he’d win by KO inside five.

He added that with only four days before the fight, the only concern is Pacquiao’s food intake after Friday’s official weigh-in.

Roach wants Pacquiao, who has never fought at 147 pounds, to weigh in at 144 or 145, then climb the ring no more than 150 pounds.

“The food intake we have to watch out for is after the weigh-in to make sure he doesn’t bloat too big,” said the trainer. – Abac Cordero

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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