Manny Pacquiao,
Abac Cordero HOLLYWOOD]

HOLLYWOOD, APRIL 27, 2009 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Manny Pacquiao is probably the only favorite in the world who thinks like an underdog.

Betting lines from Sin City placed Pacquiao as the -270 favorite against Ricky Hatton, and yet boxing’s pound-for-pound fighter today, supposed to be the best and the strongest regardless of weight, thinks otherwise.

“Let’s not be over-confident. Let’s not think of this as an easy fight. Let’s think that we’re the underdog,” he said when reminded of the Sportsbook betting lines that placed Hatton as the +210 favorite as of midnight Saturday (Sunday afternoon in Manila).

This means that you need to place $270 on Pacquiao just to win a hundred bucks. A $100 bet on Hatton, on the other hand, and whether he wins by decision or knockout, gives you back $210.

“People put too much trust on me,” said Pacquiao as he wrapped up another three-hour workout at the enclosed Wild Card Gym, a workout that included five rounds of sparring and a great amount of time on the bags, with the ropes and on the mat.

Exactly a week before the fight, Pacquiao seemed clueless why the odds favoring him against the boxer whom he described the other day as “fast, strong and skillful” are that high.

“Pareho lang naman kami may tari (We both have the spurs),” said Pacquiao in between sets for his abdominal exercises that means more than 2,000 crunches a day – in the morning and the afternoon.

Pacquiao said he’s ready to take on the best body blows Hatton could offer.

“Yan ang favorite shot niya eh (That’s his favorite shot),” Pacquiao said as he felt his mid-section.

Pacquiao did three rounds with Uzbek Alisher Rahimov, a quarterfinalist in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and two rounds with David Rodela, who’s been in Pacquiao camps dating back to the Erik Morales fights.

Pacquiao was hot and cold against Rahimov, at times playing around, and put on a show against Rodela who just couldn’t keep up with the Filipino’s quickness with both his hands and feet.

“I always ended up looking where he’s at because he’s so fast. I got dizzy in there,” Rodela said.

Fans were strictly kept out of the gym, and were allowed in, in small groups, by assistant trainer Michael Moorer when Pacquiao was all done and over with. They were allowed to have pictures taken with the boxer, but none of the autograph signing.

Pacquiao went straight to his favorite Thai restaurant, treating friends to his daily splurge that costs him no less than $500 per visit. Then at home, more friends came in, no less than 50 of them cramming the living room, until they were told to leave at around 9 p.m.

Notes: Sunday afternoon is the official weigh-in for Manny Pacquiao’s “weight-reduction” challenge among members of this entourage, and to any friend of a friend here in Los Angeles. Pacquiao has offered $3,000, yes, $3,000 to anyone who could lose 10 percent of their body weight in three weeks. There were 84 entries, and as of Saturday it was down to 74, most of whom were safely in the limit and already assured of the huge prize. The biggest loser (in weight) gets the jackpot of $10,000. Granting that everybody makes it, Pacquiao will have to shell out at least $220,000 or P10.5 million — all for fun. Boxer Rodel Mayol, scheduled to face undefeated Puerto Rican Ivan Calderon on June 13 in New York, is currently way ahead, starting off at 130 pounds and down to 112. Former Manila scribe and now Pacquiao wingman Winchell Campos is down to 169 from 188 while Ben del Gado, at 72 the oldest among the members of Team Pacquiao here, is a pound short of earning $3,000 on the eve of the weigh-in. From 129, he was down to 118, and on Saturday evening spent a few minutes on the sauna.... A Pacquiao insider insisted Saturday that the boxer is down to 139 pounds or a pound under the limit with still a week left before the fight. Quite hard to believe, though, because boxers don’t normally do that, making weight and much more staying under with a week still up ahead.... The customized bus bearing the images of Pacquiao will take the boxers relatives and friends in town to Las Vegas on Mondays. It was parked out back of the Wild Card Gym Saturday. Pacquiao and his wife, Jinkee, should board their Navigator to Sin City, and the bus on the way back.

Manny tells defeated Peñalosa: Retire now Updated April 27, 2009 12:00 AM

HOLLYWOOD – Manny Pacquiao is calling on Gerry Peñalosa to hang up his gloves.

Pacquiao took it with a heavy heart after watching his dear friend drop a one-sided contest against reigning WBO super-bantamweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez Friday evening in the latter’s hometown in Puerto Rico.

“I felt so uneasy as early as the first round. My hands were sweating,” said Pacquiao as he emerged from the bedroom of his posh La Palazzo apartment where he caught a live coverage of the fight.

“Gerry moved well but Juan Manuel was too tall for him, and stronger, too. But I’m happy with his showing. He didn’t go down,” said Pacquiao of Peñalosa, at 36 years old just trying to turn back the clock.

Pacquiao said Freddie Roach, who had to fly to Puerto Rico just to be in Peñalosa’s corner, made the right call when he ordered the stoppage of the fight before the start of the 10th round.

Roach was overheard saying during the TV telecast that he would stop the fight if Peñalosa, a 7-1 underdog, can’t take Lopez out in the ninth round.

Pacquiao was asked what should be the best move for Peñalosa.

“I think he should retire. For me, that’s it because he’s been in boxing for so long (close to 20 years). He should retire because there’s nothing more to prove,” he said of Peñalosa, a former champion in the super-flyweight and bantamweight divisions.

“I think he would think that way, too. I think that should be it. I think this was his last fight. He himself told me,” Pacquiao added.

But word coming from Puerto Rico said Peñalosa is being offered a fight against either Fernando Montiel or Eric Morel who will square off on June 27 in New Jersey for the title vacated by the Filipino fighter.

And that Peñalosa might consider.

Lopez, at 5’7” three inches taller and 11 years younger than Peñalosa, was all over the gallant Filipino southpaw, who had to give up his WBO bantamweight crown just to get a shot at the undefeated Puerto Rican. Peñalosa took a terrible beating although he never appeared to be on the verge of going down. One of the commentators said, “It’s amazing how he could withstand all the punishment.”

The final punchstat told the whole story. Lopez threw a total of 863 power punches and landed 421, including a punchstat record of 70 power punches in the sixth round, compared to Peñalosa who threw 287, landing only 73.

Midway through the fight, the number of power punches landed by Lopez exceeded the number of punches thrown by Peñalosa.

Numbers don’t lie in boxing. Well, at least, most of the time. – Abac Corde

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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