Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao does some stretching exercise on his final day of training at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood. AP, LAS VEGAS]

LAS VEGAS, APRIL 29, 2009 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Manny Pacquiao is the last man on earth to engage himself in a word war.

And this time is no exception, even as his trainer, Freddie Roach, and Ricky Hatton’s trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., have traded barbs before the press, often times catching the soft-spoken, kind-hearted Filipino champion in the crossfire.

Pacquiao also refused to get carried away by Hatton’s recent statement, calling on his countrymen from Britain to go sell their houses, and put all the money on the 30-year-old pride of Manchester. He said he’s the sure bet.

“I don’t think he ever said that,” said Pacquiao of Hatton in defusing the situation.

“Even if people talk and say a lot of things, and that I’ve heard a lot being said against me, you will never hear anything from me that I’m going to exact revenge or something,” said Pacquiao in Filipino.

Pacquiao wore a white shirt, blue shorts, rubber slippers and a Patek Phillipe wristwatch when he emerged from his bedroom to greet the more than 50 persons having late dinner in his elegant 60th floor suite at The Hotel of Mandalay Bay.

They have just come from a four-hour journey from Los Angeles to this throbbing city where people party all day, all night.

Pacquiao, who came in ahead of the big group, which took the “Pacman” bus from LA, said he’s ready for the fight.

“I’m a hundred percent in condition. We just have to maintain it until Saturday. We’ll stay loose and no more heavy training,” said the 30-year-old southpaw who earlier in the day closed out his sparring at the Wild Card Gym in LA for a total of 149 rounds since March 17.

He said he’s in the same condition as he was when he demolished Oscar dela Hoya last December, although the style might change depending on how Hatton moves around the ring.

“It depends on his style. We may use a different strategy this time. But I’m ready. We don’t know if Hatton will initiate but people know my style, in and out, in and out, and waiting for the perfect timing. I can also slug it out from inside,” he said.

Pacquiao said Hatton can go to his body all night long, and it won’t make a difference because he’s got abs solid as a rock.

“In sparring I let them go to my body. That’s why I prefer he goes for my body than my head. It’s really hard to tell. We’ll just let our fists do the talking,” said Pacquiao.

Notes: Gerry Peñalosa is A-OK after taking a beating from Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez last Saturday. Filipino doctor Allan Recto, who was in Peñalosa’s corner, said the 36-year-old boxer was brought to the hospital for precautionary measures after taking in more than 400 power punches before the fight was stopped after nine rounds. “He underwent facial X-Rays, and also on the neck and chest. They were normal. Preliminary readings of the CT scan were also normal,” said Recto. Now it’s up to Peñalosa if he wants to retire or continue fighting although his beautiful wife, Goody, hinted that it’s time to call it a day. “You’ve done everything,” the wife was quoted as telling his husband, a two-time world champion... Manny Pacquiao stayed as a -270 favorite (you need $270 to win $100) while Ricky Hatton jumped from +210 to +230 (turn $100 to $230). That the fight won’t last the distance is at -125 and going the full distance of 12 rounds is at +105. Pacquiao winning by decision is 2/1 and by KO is at 10/113. Hatton by decision is 9/2 and by knockout is 16/5. A draw gives a handsome dividend of 22/1... Pacquiao did not take the bus to Vegas, and as tradition dictated, took the 300-mile trip on his Lincoln Navigator with his wife Jinkee, 1996 Atlanta Olympics boxing silver medalist Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco, Pinoy trainer Buboy Fernandez and wife Claire, and Edward Lura on the wheel.

It's going to be easy, says Roach Updated April 29, 2009 12:00 AM

[Photo at left - Freddie Roach. Abac Cordero LAS VEGAS

(STAR) Freddie Roach was in fast-forward mode Monday.

“I can’t wait. I can’t wait for this fight,” said the three-time Trainer of the Year, just so eager as anyone else within Team Pacquiao to get things going against British champion Ricky Hatton.

He was asked if he was a hundred percent ready. He paused a while and said “yeah.”

Roach, who’s been manning Manny Pacquiao’s corner for almost eight years now, is so confident of a Pacquiao victory even if Hatton has “the cockiest trainer in the world” in Floyd Mayweather Sr.

“He (Mayweather) thinks it’s all about him. I think it’s all about Manny Pacquiao. And the reason why we’ll win this fight is because I have the better fighter. It has nothing to do with the trainers,” said Roach, neck deep in a word war with his counterpart.

Roach was asked what he sees when the opening bell sounds on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

“We’ll go out and box this guy. We can frustate him because he can’t find us then he’ll start swinging from faraway. No problem. He’s not a thinking fighter. As soon as he gets hit he’ll come forward. Then he’ll keep walking in to combinations until he gets knocked out,” he said.

Sounds easy. Roach said it’s gonna be.

“Manny Pacquiao is the best fighter in the world and he’s performing great. You know when the bell rings I’d tell Manny to win the fight and I’m sure he’ll do it. I have a lot of confidence in Manny Pacquiao,” he added before leaving LA for Vegas at the backseat of his silver Mercedes Benz CL S55.

Roach, wearing a skin-head hairdo, said the door is open for Hatton.

“The tempo is up to him. If he wants to come forward we’ll let him in and come into our trap. We’ll welcome him because he’ll walk into our combinations.”

They’re simply leaving it up to Hatton. – Abac Cordero

Donaire picks Pacman by decision By Joaquin Henson Updated April 29, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - IBF flyweight champion Nonito Donaire Jr. painted the other day a different picture from conventional thinking in predicting the outcome of the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton fight in Las Vegas this weekend.

Contrary to popular opinion that the IBO lightwelterweight title bout will end in a knockout, Donaire said he’s picking Pacquiao to win on points.

“It won’t be an easy fight for Manny,” said Donaire who left Manila for San Francisco with his wife Rachel last night and will be in Las Vegas to cheer for Pacquiao. “Hatton is strong, maybe stronger than (Oscar) De la Hoya whom Manny couldn’t drop. He’ll crowd Manny and lean on him against the ropes. He’ll move to Manny’s right, which is his weak side, and stay clear of the left hand. He’ll dig into Manny’s body. Manny will get tired stepping back. But if Manny turns it into a tactical fight, uses his southpaw advantage and outspeeds Hatton, there’s no way he’s losing.”

Donaire said while Hatton will try to brawl, Pacquiao will stick and move to frustrate the Hitman from Manchester.

“Freddie (Roach) thinks Manny will finish off Hatton in three or four rounds so they must know something we don’t,” continued Donaire. “They must have an ace up their sleeves. They must have seen something in Hatton’s style that will make him an easy target for Manny. But what I know is Hatton is a dangerous opponent who’ll make it difficult for Manny to connect. He’ll press the attack and take away Manny’s distance.”

Although Hatton has the ability to pull an upset, Donaire said it’s unlikely because Pacquiao is too quick and too smart.

“Before Hatton can move to Manny’s right, he’ll be thrown off balance by the jab,” he went on. “Hatton has difficulty fighting lefties. And there’s no tougher southpaw in the 140-pound division than Manny.”

Donaire said Hatton will push Pacquiao to the limit but there’s no way the Englishman will take the decision. “Manny might not be able to bring Hatton down like he did David Diaz but he’ll win just the same,” said Donaire.

As for his future plans, Donaire said he’s looking forward to invading the superflyweight ranks.

“Making 112 pounds just takes too much out of me,” said Donaire. “I’m hoping my fight against (Raul) Martinez was my last as a flyweight. During the fight, I felt my legs stiffening. My lungs were fine and I was breathing normal but my legs were cramping. I couldn’t break out into a sweat.”

Last April 19, Martinez took four trips to the canvas before Chicago referee Pete Podgorski stopped the massacre in the fourth round at the Araneta Coliseum. It was Donaire’s third defense of the title he wrested from Vic Darchinyan two years ago.

“In the first round, I landed a right hook that hurt Martinez,” said Donaire. “That set the tone for the fight. From then on, he kept looking for the right and his defense opened up for my left. I made adjustments as the fight wore on. I noticed his jab was landing on my shoulder so I bent a little lower to make him miss and that gave me the chance to throw my counter right. I switch-hit a little bit and I’m excited to work on fighting southpaw in the gym for my future fights. Fighting left and right will confuse my opponents.”

Donaire said Martinez was in no condition to continue after he was floored in the fourth. Podgorski didn’t bother to count even as Martinez got up quickly but his legs were rubbery and his eyes were glazed. Before the start of the fourth, Podgorski told Martinez that if he went down once more, the fight would be stopped outright. Podgorski kept his word.

“I threw everything I had,” said Donaire. “At the end of the first round, I felt pain in my left hand. But I didn’t let it bother me. I wanted to finish him off. When he got up in the fourth round, I noticed his legs crossed. He was wobbly. It was right that the referee stepped in.”

Donaire said Martinez earned his respect.

“He told me he never imagined I could be so fast and so strong, that he’s now my big fan,” said Donaire. “I respect him for that. He’s capable of fighting a lot better but I didn’t give him the chance to show what he could do. I give him credit for coming to Manila. But I didn’t want to disappoint the fans. I went out there with a challenger’s mindset. I felt like I had nothing to lose and I gave it all I had.”

Donaire said after resting his battered left hand a few days, it was 95 percent back to normal. “I’m ready to go back to the gym,” said Donaire before taking off for San Francisco.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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