Former heavyweight champion MIke Tyson, left, shares some thoughts with trainer Freddie Roach on Manny Pacquiao’s highly anticipated fight with Oscar dela Hoya during the Filipino champ’s final day at the gym. ABAC CORDERO]

LAS VEGAS, DECEMBER 6, 2008 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Mike Tyson came unannounced, unexpected and threw his full support to Manny Pacquiao in his coming battle with Oscar dela Hoya on Saturday evening (Sunday noon in Manila) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The former heavyweight champion of the world now heavy on the belly showed up at the IBA Gym just outside the city’s main hub, and silently watched Pacquiao in his last day at the gym heading to the year’s most anticipated fight.

Tyson came in a pink long-sleeved shirt, gray pants and black leather shoes, and accompanied by a lone friend. He sat quietly in the gym’s weights section, obliging to some photo-ops and only rose when Pacquiao got up the ring.

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Tyson watched with great interest as the world’s pound-for-pound champion from the Philippines pounded the mitts with Freddie Roach, who also trained the boxer that was also known as “the baddest man on this planet” late in his career.

He applauded when Pacquiao was done with the mitts, then started to share his thoughts with Roach and co-trainer Buboy Fernandez, showing them how to move the head and body or dock and weave against the taller and heftier Dela Hoya.

Pacquiao just won’t stop training, and Roach had to hold him back a few times.

“Come on champ! Come on! Let’s go home,” said Tyson, catching Pacquiao’s attention and motioning with his hands to “cut it” and call it a day, and prepare himself for Friday’s official weigh-in at the MGM fight venue.

Pacquiao and Tyson talked very briefly, and patted each other on the shoulder.

“It was nice to see Mike Tyson,” said Roach who trained Tyson for his fight against British Danny Williams in 2004. He was no longer a threat by that time, and got knocked out in the seventh round, and very soon after he retired for good.

Tyson and Roach often whispered to each other as the rest focused on Pacquiao.

“He just told us to be careful moving in straight lines because Oscar has the longer reach. They were sensible stuff. It’s nice to see Mike. I’m a big fan of Tyson. He’s a nice guy,” said Roach.

Tyson, who had watched Pacquiao’s recent fights, declined to be interviewed.

“He gets a little embarrassed when he’s around fight people and he’s not fighting anymore. And he doesn’t want to get the limelight away from Manny Pacquiao. He doesn’t like to have pictures taken and talk to a lot of people,” Roach said.

When Pacquiao first fought Erik Morales in March 2005, Tyson was there, and the night before the fight said he knew how “fast” Pacquiao was and that he “just throws a lot of punches.”

Roach said he couldn’t believe it when Tyson told him he couldn’t get tickets to Saturday’s fight, and assured the youngest fighter to become heavyweight champion of the world that he’d get four tickets courtesy of Pacquiao.

“Unfortunately he told me they won’t give him tickets to the fight. I told him ‘Are you kidding me?’ But he’ll get ‘em. Manny said he’ll give Mike four tickets,” said Freddie.

Dream Match Analysis: 10 factors to decide fight By Joaquin Henson Updated December 06, 2008 12:00 AM

LAS VEGAS – In analyzing the factors that could determine the outcome of the Manny Pacquiao-Oscar dela Hoya “dream match” here tonight (tomorrow morning, Manila), 10 critical elements come to mind.

• Speed. This translates into quickness of hand and foot. Mobility may be affected by weight, age, conditioning or a combination of those. If Pacquiao isn’t able to carry the added weight on his body, he’ll be slow and easier for Dela Hoya to hit. But if his body has adjusted to the extra pounds, Pacquiao should be faster than Dela Hoya who is six years older. Pacquiao’s lateral and head movement could leave a dizzy Dela Hoya punching air. Advantage: Pacquiao.

• Power. Because he’s naturally bigger, Dela Hoya will be stronger than Pacquiao in the ring. Dela Hoya has the power to knock out Pacquiao with a single blow while for Pacquiao to bring down Dela Hoya, it will take an accumulation of punches. The key is to avoid Dela Hoya’s bombs. Dela Hoya likes to set up his power shots with his left jab so if Pacquiao can slip it, he’ll be hard to catch. Advantage: Dela Hoya.

• Experience. Pacquiao has fought 283 rounds in 52 fights since 1995 while Dela Hoya has logged 300 rounds in 44 bouts since 1992. They’ve fought a slew of future Hall of Famers with Dela Hoya probably mixing it up with a higher grade of opposition. Dela Hoya could be shop-worn or “overfought” and if he is, experience will be a liability. Pacquiao knows what it’s like to fight under the Vegas lights like Dela Hoya. The glitz won’t be a distraction either way. Advantage: Even.

• Hunger. With De la Hoya’s billion dollar empire, it’s difficult to imagine why the Golden Boy continues to risk life and limb inside the ring. He hopes to retire in a blaze of glory at Pacquiao’s expense but will his body hold up? There isn’t a hungrier fighter than Pacquiao at his level of fighting ability. Pacquiao doesn’t only fight for money but also for personal glory and most importantly, national pride. This is his shot at immortality. Advantage: Pacquiao.

• Resilience. In a war of attrition, the fighter who makes critical adjustments along the way to take the initiative should be tougher down the stretch. How to cope with unavoidable circumstances, like getting cut, is a test of character and heart. The fighter who is less predictable has a better chance of catching his opponent when he’s not looking. Advantage: De la Hoya.

• Vulnerability. The ability to take a punch is vital. Dela Hoya is known for his granite chin. His only loss by knockout came in the Bernard Hopkins fight and when Dela Hoya was counted out from a punch to the side of the body, it didn’t seem like he was badly hurt. In contrast, Pacquiao has been stopped twice. Advantage: De la Hoya.

• Cornerwork. Veterans Angelo Dundee and Nacho Beristain are in Dela Hoya’s camp. How the oldtimers are getting along is a question mark. Whether Dela Hoya engaged them for publicity purposes or not is another question mark. If Dela Hoya listens to both oldtimers, he might end up confused. Neither has a fighter’s mentality like Freddie Roach, a former pro who knows what it’s like to put on gloves and take a shot. Advantage: Pacquiao.

• Defense. Dela Hoya started boxing with the right fundamentals. Pacquiao learned the basics through experience. Dela Hoya has good defensive instincts. When he’s in trouble, extricating is no problem. Pacquiao is a natural braveheart who doesn’t back down from a challenge. His offense is his defense. Advantage: Dela Hoya.

• Intelligence. Executing a fight plan to perfection requires a lot of smarts. For Pacquiao, he can’t afford to make a mistake because he’s up against a bigger, stronger and extremely dangerous opponent. If he beats Dela Hoya, it won’t be just because of his fighting skills. It’ll also be because he’s smarter. De la Hoya has everything to lose and little to gain while it’s the reverse for Pacquiao. Roach knows Pacquiao must outthink Dela Hoya in the trenches and destroy his will to win. Advantage: Pacquiao.

• Stamina. If the fight goes the full route, the fighter with the sturdier set of lungs will finish with fresher legs. If Dela Hoya’s weight reduction program took a heavy toll, he’ll be easy prey for Pacquiao like Erik Morales was in their third meeting. To win, Pacquiao must be prepared to hit and run all 12 rounds without tiring out. If Dela Hoya can’t keep pace, it’ll be curtains for the Golden Boy. Advantage: Pacquiao.

In the final analysis, it will be Pacquiao over Dela Hoya by a close decision. Pacquiao will turn Dela Hoya around like a top and prevent him from getting untracked. He’ll slide away from Dela Hoya’s left hook and counter with a left to the body. Pacquiao’s southpaw stance will bother Dela Hoya. The right hand will be a big weapon against the Golden Boy because it will travel less distance to connect than the left. A sustained body attack will sap Dela Hoya’s energy but it may not be enough to make him quit.

Dela Hoya’s chances of scoring a knockout are higher in the early rounds when he’s fresher. That’s fair warning for Pacquiao to stay away from striking distance. Once Dela Hoya is softened up and tired, Pacquiao can step up his attack to establish control.

The situation is definitely winnable for Pacquiao but it will take the execution of a perfect fight plan to repulse Dela Hoya.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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