[OLD PHOTO - Manny Pacquiao, of the Philippines, Shane Mosley at a news conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011. Pic: AP.]

MANILA, APRIL 25, 2011 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - It’s no joke when Freddie Roach says it’s not going to be an easy fight.

Contrary to what many people say, the hottest trainer in boxing firmly believes that Manny Pacquiao could be in for a big surprise against Shane Mosley on May 7.

Oddsmakers have Pacquiao as the 8-1 favorite, meaning that only way he could lose this battle is he climbs the ring at the MGM Grand with his hands tied to his waist.

But Roach, who never takes any fight, any fighter for granted, doesn’t think so.

“People are saying to Manny this is going to be an easy fight,” Roach told Fight Camp 360, a four-part series drumming up the highly anticipated welterweight clash.

“And I want to slap them in the face and say, ‘Don’t tell him (Pacquiao) that because it’s not an easy fight,’” added Roach, who nonetheless expects another victory for his Pinoy fighter.

Pacquiao said he can feel the pressure of people chalking up another victory for him even before the fight could start.

“Millions of fans are expecting my victory. There is pressure but I can handle that,” he said.

Roach said he’s expecting the best of Mosley on fight night, the same Mosley that defeated Oscar dela Hoya twice, and the same Mosley who knocked out Antonio Margarito in 2009.

Pacquiao turned Margarito’s face into a pulp last November, but failed to put the Mexican almost twice as big as Pacquiao, down during their 12-round contest.

“I’m excited about this fight because we know that Shane is going to bring it,” said Roach last week at his Wild Card Gym in Hollywood where Pacquiao held a media workout.

“The fight with Sugar Shane will not be easy. But my prediction is that Manny will win by knockout and become the first boxer to stop Mosley,” he said.

Bob Arum, the promoter, joined the sales talk.

“Nobody can count Shane Mosley out. He is a good, good fighter, especially when he fights an aggressive opponent like Manny Pacquiao,” he said.

Season of renewal THE GAME OF MY LIFE
By Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) Updated April 25, 2011 12:00 AM

Easter always has its solemnity, and the absence of sports during the Holy Week forces many of us to look inward and look for what was lost, or temporarily misplaced. There are times when being immersed in an environment for too long can dull one’s senses, even if that environment is exciting and fast-paced as the one I live in. Even The STAR took a break Good Friday, hence no thudding of the paper on your doorstep Saturday morning. At any rate, little deprivation never hurt anyone.

I pray you’ll indulge a little retrospection, which I think we all need. I wanted to get back to the things I really enjoyed doing, well aside from my job, which is incredibly fulfilling. To do that, I had to detach myself, reflect, see who I truly wanted to be around and for what purposes, and who truly appreciated me, in turn. The gratitude I felt for all those people was overwhelming. But to achieve that epiphany, I needed to get away, disengage.

My journey took me to Davao, a place I had frequented but never explored deeply. This would be the proper time and place to meditate, indulge in what I truly enjoyed, and find the inner balance I often felt was shaken in the day-to-day hustle of work. And wouldn’t you know it, God used sports to help renew my spirit.

I was always a water person, and many of us discover that we secretly are. Swimming was my first sport, a necessity to combat asthma that came with the package. Yet I had somehow spent more time watching sports like swimming than actually doing them, I’m sure that’s happened to you, too. So my first adventure was exploring the mighty Davao River. Davao, you see, is often touted as the largest city in the world in terms of land area. Believe me, after spending more than an hour in a taxi with no traffic and still being in Davao City, I would think that to be true.

The first adventure was the Wildwater rafting adventure in Calinan, another stretch for someone who likes being in control. After another hour in an oversized jeepney heading to the hills, we were introduced to the 13-kilometer stretch of river which we would be traversing in rubber boats. We had to learn how to sit, how to row, how to hook our feet, and most of all, how to follow instructions. Not as easy as it sounds. In the first five minutes, we were each asked to learn “defensive swimming”, meaning keeping your legs up and keep your arms to yourselves if you were separated from the craft. I thought to myself that it would never happen to me. Sort of how I thought that, for once in my life, sunburn wouldn’t hurt, either. Wrong on both counts.

You have to force all other thoughts from your mind, whether you intend to or not, because that is the only way you’ll manage to make it through the day swallowing the least amount of river water. The first time I jumped in and drifted with the current, I felt the hand of God and could swear I heard a whisper assuring me everything would be okay. It was both surprising and familiar. And it prepared me for what happened near the end of our wild ride.

Going through some of the last rapids, our raft banked high on a jutting rock, and perched tilted to the left. Half of us were standing on the right side to keep it from capsizing. Those of us on the left tried our best to stay in the raft because the current was so strong. But always, the water wins.

I was suddenly submerged in brown, roiling water, and couldn’t see a thing. Between my helmet coming down my forehead and my life jacket surging up my face, I felt momentarily trapped, and scared. Even when I broke the surface, I had no clue where I was, and wanted to use my skills as a swimmer to struggle against the tide. But the voice in my head urged me to calm down, even as the current around me was fierce. I could feel my rump bouncing on rocks, but I was unhurt. Minutes later, another raft came, and they dragged me, coughing but all right, onboard.

It was a humbling, humiliating experience, but also one full of learning. I was always in a world I controlled, where it was hard to entrust. Now, any risk I would take would seem smaller compared to challenging the raw power of nature, and rediscovering a higher power that looks out for me.

* * *

As an aside, the trip also opened my eyes as to why I am advocating clean drinking water through The Philippine Water Runs. In the middle of the river, there were tubes, pipes and hoses hanging overhead, bridging communities that had no access to drinking water whatsoever

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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