(PHOTO AT LEFT - Manny Pacquiao shows he’s back in fighting form after Wednesday’s workout. ABAC CORDERO. HOLLYWOOD)

HOLLYWOOD, NOVEMBER 6, 2010 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - There’s only one problem in Manny Pacquiao’s camp, and it has nothing to do with speed, stamina and any form of distraction.

“The fight is still one week away. That’s the problem,” Mike Koncz told Manila-based reporters inside the sauna-like dressing room of the Wild Card Gym.

“If the fight is held tomorrow, we’re ready to go. Absolutely,” Pacquiao’s Canadian adviser added Wednesday (Los Angeles time), a very hot and humid day here.

“It’s a good thing you said that. I’m ready. Everything is back to normal,” Pacquiao responded as he sat on a wooden stool and dressed up after an impressive two-hour workout.

Just earlier outside, up in the ring, Pacquiao pounded the mitts with Freddie Roach, and shadow boxed like Antonio Margarito was right in front of him.

As Pacquiao cooled down with the ropes and his abdominal exercises, Roach watched from one corner of the ring. He smiled most of the time, looking satisfied with his boxer’s development the past few days.

“I’m ready. I already tested my stamina when I sparred 12 rounds (last Saturday). Freddie is now very happy with my performance,” said Pacquiao.

The 31-year-old superstar is in his few days of training for the Nov. 13 showdown with Margarito. He will train here in LA until Monday, the day he leaves for Texas.

Pacquiao said he will spar seven or eight rounds Thursday, and the number continues to drop until Saturday.

“It’s more of the strategy now. We have prepared different strategies we can use for the fight. But it’s still the speed that will carry me through here,” he said.

Pacquiao spoke to a gorgeous TV reporter, not from the Philippines, and said while he admits that Margarito has the advantage in size, both in height and reach, he has the speed.

“We can use that so he cannot use his own advantage. If there’s speed, there’s nothing to worry about,” he said.

Again, like in all his previous fights, Pacquiao vowed to put on a show for the crowd that is expected to fill the Cowboys Stadium on fight night, and the millions who will watch through pay-per-view.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a tough fight. I’m sure there will be a lot of action in the ring because of his style. He’s aggressive.

He sounded so confident of a victory that he talked about a concert he’s doing on the 16th, three days after the fight, in Lake Tahoe.

“After winning I will have a concert there. Then I go back to the Philippines, and go back to Congress,” he said.

Notes: Laurence Cole, who called a slip a knockout, and a knockout a slip, when Manny Pacquiao fought Marco Antonio Barrera in San Antonio, Texas, in 2003, will be the third man on the ring when the Filipino slugger faces Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13 at the Cowboys Stadium..... Pacquiao said around 50 of the close to 300 members of the Philippine Congress will fly to Texas to watch him fight. Too bad Rep. Imelda R. Marcos isn’t one of them because it would have made Bob Arum happy. “She’s such a wonderful lady. And I always get a kick out of her,” said the 77-year-old Top Rank president, who first met the former First Lady during the staging of the Thrilla in Manila a long, long time ago.... There’s been a change of plan. Pacquiao will no longer take a 12-seater plane from LA to Texas on Monday. Instead he has decided to rent a jumbo jet to accommodate his entourage, close to 200 of them, the way he did for the Joshua Clottey fight last March..

Pacquiao relishes role as kingmaker By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) Updated November 05, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (24)

HOLLYWOOD – Manny Pacquiao’s mind went somewhere else after Thursday’s workout at the Wild Card Gym.

It took a turn to his new love -- politics.

For nearly 45 minutes, inside the oven-hot dressing room of the famous Hollywood sweatshop, Pacquiao sounded every bit the politician that he is.

First, he reminded the scribes of his so-called victory in last week’s US elections.

“I went two-for-two,” said the Filipino boxer who, in his own little way, helped campaign for senator-elect Harry Reid of Nevada and governor-elect Gerry Brown of California.

One of Pacquiao’s consultants, Joe Ramos, said Reid was four percentage points behind his rival before Bob Arum took Pacquiao to a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas last Friday.

They held hands before the camera, and when the final vote was counted, Reid won by nine percentage points.

“That’s a 14-point swing right there,” said Ramos.

Pacquiao’s mind then travelled thousands of miles away, to General Santos City and Sarangani, where he was elected congressman during the May 10 elections back home.

“In last week’s barangay elections, all of those whom I helped and campaigned for won via landslide, and that includes my brother and sister-in-law,” he said.

Roel Pacquiao and Lorelei Pacquiao, wife of Bobby Pacquiao, were both elected as barangay chairmen.

The boxing icon said that in General Santos City alone, his hold on those in power in the barangay level grew from 3-of-26 to 15-of-26.

“Captured ko na. I think they’ve noticed my early accomplishments as a congressman, so when I ask them to join forces with me, they didn’t hesitate now,” he said.

“And some of those who were beaten by my bets have been in power for a very long time now. In Sarangani, 27 of the 31 heads of the different barangays are with me.”

Pacquiao said he promised these people that if they show loyalty to him, he will reward them with loyalty just the same.

Pacquiao also laid down his plans for Sarangani, including the construction of a P200 million general hospital, the first in the province, starting next year.

“For me it’s health, livelihood and education,” he said.

“Soon we will be giving away 200 heads of cattle to poor farmers and 200 outrigger fishing boats (banca) to poor fishermen in Sarangani. Then they will all be fine, and I will be okay,” he said.

He could have gone on and on, but Mike Koncz had to remind Pacquiao of the time. It was past six in the evening, and that he had to pick up his wife at the airport since she was scheduled to arrive from Manila.

Roach warns: Old Manny's back By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) Updated November 06, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (1)

(PHOTO AT LEFT - After all the distractions early in Manny Pacquiao’s training camp, trainer Freddie Roach is finally all smiles. ABAC CORDERO)

HOLLYWOOD – With a smile on his face, Freddie Roach looked at the coming fight, and said everything has been figured out, from start to finish.

“We will knock this guy out, I promise you,” the celebrated trainer said as he faced mediamen from Manila at the Wild Card Gym Thursday in Los Angeles.

With just nine days before the fight, Roach sounded even more confident than when he was many weeks back, that Manny Pacquiao is going to beat Antonio Margarito.

“I’m happy. Manny Pacquiao is back,” said Roach, who’s about to wrap up Pacquiao’s training in this City of Angels. He said he couldn’t wait for the day of the fight in Arlington, Texas.

Early in the camp, over in Baguio City in the Philippines, Roach complained of distractions that hounded Pacquiao on and off the ring, in and out of his hotel suite, wherever he goes.

But once they got here, it was business as usual for Pacquiao, except for the day when he flew to Las Vegas, staying there for just a couple of hours, for a political commitment.

“Mentally, he is now much more into the fight,” said Roach after another sparring day for Pacquiao who did seven rounds with Rashad Holloway, Dave Rodela and Ray Beltran.

“He knows the game plan. He looks great in sparring. He did nine rounds of sparring last Tuesday. Now we did seven. We do five round on Saturday and three or four on Monday,” said Roach.

Monday is the day Pacquiao and his huge entourage fly to Texas on board a chartered jet.

“He is definitely 100 percent ready to go,” said Roach.

Pacquiao said the same the other day, flexing his muscles before the cameras.

Roach was asked what he sees after the opening bell, when the expected crowd of 60,000 cries for action between the two fighters vying for the vacant WBC super-welterweight crown.

“He’s (Margarito) going to be aggressive and come after us and try to get our respect. But he’s going to walk into Manny’s power and he’s going to feel it and it’s going to change the course of the fight,” said Roach.

He added that through tapes, he has gotten to know Margarito too well.

“He is notoriously a slow starter but I expect him to come out quick and try to get Pacquiao’s respect right away. Don’t be surprised if this fight ends early.

“I want Manny to show this guy that we mean business and get him off-balance in the first round because this guy’s footwork is terrible and it’ll show in the fight and we’re going to take full advantage of it,” he explained.

Roach said Margarito has this bad habit of crossing his feet and walking around the ring, something you can’t afford when up against a boxer as skillful, powerful and quick as Pacquiao.

“He doesn’t have the traditional footwork of a boxer. He gets off-balance and when he is off-balance he doesn’t have any power. I see this fight as an easy fight. I don’t see any problems.”

“We watched his tapes and he is very easily read and makes the same bad habits every time and reaches for punches. Manny Pacquiao the best fighter in the world and a hundred percent will kick his ass,” he added.

Margarito gains on Manny in fight odds By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) Updated November 05, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (1)

HOLLYWOOD – Don’t look now but Antonio Margarito has closed in on Manny Pacquiao in the eyes of the betting public.

The Mexican underdog, who went as low as +425 (meaning a $100 bet wins $425) a couple of weeks ago, is now at +350 with just nine days before the fight.

No thanks to reports, rumors perhaps, that Pacquiao has been taking things lightly and is out of focus for what should be the biggest, toughest fight for him in recent years.

Pacquiao, who was at -650 (meaning you need $650 to win $100) as of last week, is now at -550.

Bob Arum, the promoter from Top Rank, said it was unthinkable for the odds to have gone as wild as in the past couple of weeks because he feels that Margarito poses a serious threat to Pacquiao.

“The odds are crazy,” he said.

Arum added that the more logical betting odds for this fight is 2 1/2 to one for Pacquiao, and not 6 to one. He said the Filipinos putting their money on Pacquiao is the only reason why the odds went that way.

By this time, the Mexicans have probably started placing their bets, considering that the last couple of days reports have circulated that Pacquiao is not in top shape.

Freddie Roach, the trainer, and Alex Ariza, the strength and conditioning coach, have recently aired concerns that Pacquiao’s focus is currently divided between boxing and politics.

Roach went as far as saying that Pacquiao may soon retire because of politics.

But Pacquiao has downplayed all these by saying he’s a hundred percent ready to rumble.

Besides, he doesn’t rely on the odds as he prepares for a fight.

“The people have so much trust in me that’s why,” he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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