MANILA, MAY 7, 2009
(STAR) By Joaquin Henson - From a scrawny rookie who turned pro weighing 106 pounds in 1995, boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has evolved into one of the world’s all-time greats with six titles in different divisions.

Four other fighters in history are in the same category – James Toney, Oscar de la Hoya, Hector Camacho and Tommy Hearns. But Pacquiao is in the record books as the only fighter to claim “linear” world championships in four divisions – flyweight, featherweight, superfeatherweight and lightwelterweight. No other fighter has achieved the record of gaining universal recognition in four weight classes.

Being a “linear” champion means a lot more than winning a so-called “alphabet soup” title. The WBC, WBA, IBF, IBO and WBO install different world champions in 17 categories and rarely, agree on an undisputed titleholder. Beyond the “alphabet soup” kings, a consensus “global” or “linear” champion is recognized by objective boxing experts for his dominance.

Then, there is the pound-for-pound title, bestowed by the prestigious Ring Magazine which is known as the “Bible of Boxing.” Pacquiao is now the world’s No. 1 fighter, pound-for-pound, succeeding Floyd Mayweather Jr. upon his retirement.

When Pacquiao knocked out Ricky Hatton last weekend, he became the “linear” 140-pound champion because the Hitman from Manchester was previously recognized as the best among the different lightwelterweight titlists.

For the record, Pacquiao has now captured six world crowns – the WBC flyweight (112 pounds), IBF superbantamweight (122), “linear” featherweight (126), superfeatherweight (130), lightweight (135) and lightwelterweight (140).

Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach Alejandro Ariza said recently the fighter will likely tip off at 147 pounds, the welterweight limit.

“Against Hatton, Freddie (Roach) wanted me to bulk up Manny, make him bigger without compromising his speed,” said Ariza. “How far can Manny go? Possibly, up to 147. We worked hard in the gym to get Manny to where he was for Hatton but it was really all Manny’s doing. He did it all. Manny’s an amazing athlete.”

Ariza, who is from Bogota, Colombia, migrated to the US when he was 13 and attended San Diego State where he played baseball until a shoulder injury ended his varsity career. He took up kinesiology – the science of human movement, biochemistry and nutrition with a specialization in sports at the Health Science College of Medicine in Syracuse, New York.

Ariza, 34, was hired by Roach to join the Wild Card Gym last year and took over from Justin Fortune. He was initially assigned to work with Pacquiao’s brother Bobby and another Filipino fighter Diosdado Gabi. Ariza used to work with the late world champion Diego Corrales. He has also trained Erik Morales, Angel Manfredy and UFC fighter Andrei Arlovsky. Ariza introduced a scientific approach called “high intensity intervolt training” in tuning up Pacquiao’s body. The approach zeroes in on fast-twitch muscle fibers and develops explosive movements.

Ariza said Pacquiao was in excellent shape for Hatton. “There were no late morning sessions and I absolutely think he trained harder in this camp,” noted Ariza, quoted by writer Steve Kim. “He completed everything as far as the conditioning, plyometrics, he’s picked up with the speed training earlier than we did last time. I think those new things with the De la Hoya fight, you second-guessed them. But I think he felt more confident. He knew how his body was going to feel after so he put in 100 percent. I’ve never seen Manny so confident and he’s on a whole different level now. I think he got used to fighting bigger guys and stronger guys that now when he faces a guy just a weight class higher than him or the same weight class, he just dominates.”

Roach said Pacquiao’s evolution has been incredible.

“I never thought this would ever happen,” said Roach, quoted by writer Dan Rafael. “He’s just been getting bigger and stronger. He’s a lot happier when he’s not making weight. He’s healthier, he gets to eat what he wants and I feel when I have a happy fighter who’s not struggling to make weight, it’s a good thing. And his powers come up with him. Manny’s a machine. He is the hardest worker I’ve ever seen in my life and that’s why he’s the best fighter in the world today.”

Even Hatton was amazed at Pacquiao’s ascension.

“It’s a phenomenal achievement what Manny’s done,” said Hatton. “He turned pro at 106. So that’s incredible, a man fighting at the weight he’s fighting at now. I think it’s a lot easier to move up through the weights the lighter weight you are because obviously, the weights are a lot closer together. From where Manny started off when he won his first world title (at 112) to when he won his last (135), you would have to say it’s more impressive. It’s absolutely such a massive achievement.”

By clinching his sixth world title, Pacquiao moved out of the list of five-time champions including Sugar Ray Leonard, Lester Ellis, Roberto Duran and Mayweather. If Pacquiao faces WBO welterweight champion Miguel Cotto next and wrests the crown, he’ll become the only fighter ever to win titles in seven divisions, cementing his place in boxing history as one of the sport’s all-time immortals.

Comelec sees Pacman party approval By Sheila Crisostomo Updated May 07, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The road to politics is going in favor of boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Pacquiao’s petition for accreditation of his People’s Champ Movement (PCM) is likely to be approved as a new political party.

Comelec chairman Jose Melo said the petition for accreditation was just awaiting a resolution from the poll agency’s Second Division.

“It seems there is no more hindrance. There was no opposition (to the petition),” Melo said.

Pacquiao, as president of the party, filed the petition before the Comelec in December last year, seeking to accredit PCM as a local political party covering Gen. Santos City and Sarangani province.

The petition listed the principal address of the political party at NLSA Road, Lagao, Gen. Santos City.

Aside from Pacquiao, PCM listed Reynaldo Constantino Jr. as executive vice president; Raul Martinez as secretary general; Rogelio Pacquiao as treasurer, Victor James Yap as auditor; Minveles Beloncio-Gulle as legal counsel.

Comelec commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer earlier explained Pacquiao is not allowed to run for any national elective position under PCM since the party has applied for local elective positions only for Gen. Santos City and Sarangani province.

Shortly after his historic win over British slugger Ricky Hatton last Sunday, Pacquiao announced he would run as congressman for Sarangani in the 2010 elections.

The boxing champion took a lopsided defeat in the political arena in 2007 when he lost to South Cotabato Rep. Darlene Custodio in his native Gen. Santos City.

Supporters, however, are pouring in to advise Pacquiao against going into politics anew.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza said he would try his best to convince Pacquiao to stick to boxing.

“As with the sentiments of other sectors, I would advice him to set aside politics in the meantime and concentrate instead on his boxing profession,” Atienza said.

Atienza is considered the “adopted father” of Pacquiao who was also officially adopted as a resident of Manila during Atienza’s term as mayor of the city.

Atienza believed that Pacquiao’s involvement in politics might only derail his focus and dampen his motivation for boxing.

– With Evelyn Macairan, Katherine Adraneda

“I will do the best I can to tell him, within the sphere of my influence, to not engage in politics at this point in time because he should fulfill the pinnacle of his boxing profession by continuously giving pride to the nation and the Filipino people,” he said.

Filipino migrant workers also appealed to Pacquiao to stay out of politics.

In an e-mailed statement, Filipino workers of Migrant Aotearoa New Zealand said they like Pacquiao more as a sportsman.

“Pacquiao has truly made us proud to be Filipino. We believe that Pacquiao can best help OFWs and their families if he stays out of politics,” they said.

“OFWs around the world supported Pacquiao’s fights. Instead of becoming another traditional politician, Pacquiao can more effectively engage in public service as a private citizen.”

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) also advised Pacquiao to stay out politics.

“My advice to him would be boxing and politics are poles apart. It does not mean that just because he was a good boxer, he would also be a good politician. I wish he would think very seriously about it,” CBCP president and Jaro, Iloilo Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said.

CBCP spokesman Monsignor Pedro Quitorio III said Pacquiao should learn from his first attempt in the 2007 elections. “This should be a good indicator for him,” Quitorio said.

“Actually he (Pacquiao) would be able to serve the Filipino people better if he remains as a sportsperson. He would be able to help more people because when the people are experiencing hard times, he is the one who provides inspiration and uplifts the Filipinos. It relieves them of their burdens,” he added.

On the other hand, Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, whose diocese covers Sarangani province and General Santos City, advised Pacquiao to run in the local level and seek a mayoralty position.

“He could run for mayor because if he runs as congressman he would have difficulty …What does he know about legislative (work),” he said.

Gutierrez said Pacquiao would “accomplish a lot if he becomes mayor.” –With Evelyn Macairan, Katherine Adraneda

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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