Sunday, December 7, 2008

Manny Pacquiao Dream Match begins

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- With a smile on his face and a snarl in his voice, Manny Pacquiao put to rest a weighty issue as he tries to overcome the biggest challenge in his career both for the glory of a nation and for his own share of boxing greatness.
The Filipino icon battles his sport’s acknowledged Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya, in an intriguing welterweight battle Saturday at the MGM Grand’s Garden Arena here, in a fight card dubbed the “Dream Match.”
“I’m ready to fight,” Pacquiao told journalists Friday night. “It’s time to make history.”
The 29-year-old brawler tipped the scales at 142 lbs Friday in a festive official weigh-in at the packed Garden Arena. The moment the number was called out and trainer Freddie Roach quickly approached the scale to check if he heard it correctly, everybody sensed something was wrong.
“I was surprised at my weight,” Pacquiao said later that evening inside his cushy 61st floor suite at THE Hotel at Mandalay Bay. “Before I went to the weigh-in, I checked my weight and came in at 146 lbs.”
That the 5-foot-10 De La Hoya made it at 145 lbs, two under the welterweight limits of 147lbs, drew even more questions.
“When I got to the venue, in less than an hour, I weighed 142 lbs. In less than an hour I lost four pounds and I did not even do anything. I don’t want to insinuate anything, but I lost four pounds in less than an hour without doing anything.”
Not that Pacquiao want a full-blown inquiry into the matter.
As a matter of fact, there was a seemingly misplaced tone of amusement in his voice as he recounted the turn of events that had him a full five pounds under the limit. It was when somebody noted that the extra weight may further disadvantage him in a fight where his opponent holds a tremendous size and reach edge that Pacquiao’s tone turned ferocious.
“Ako pa? Kilala niyo ako, hindi ako basta-basta nasisindak (You know me, I am not easily frightened),” exclaimed Pacquiao. “Kung gusto nila, magsuntukan na kami ngayon, kahit wala pang gloves (If they want, we can have at it without gloves).”
People may easily register different weights in different scales, but the difference is rarely as pronounced as four pounds. Pacquiao feels that De La Hoya may have rigged his way out of a $6-million penalty for being overweight.
As stipulated in the fight contract, any fighter who weighs over 147 lbs will pay $3 million per excess pound. That clause was inserted into the contract as a safety measure by Roach to prevent De La Hoya from coming in too big and create an even bigger mismatch between the two fighters.
De La Hoya, who has been in seclusion since reaching this gambling haven Monday night except for a few official public appearances, could not be reached for comment as his team immediately whisked him out of the venue after a couple of short television interviews.
Prior to the weigh-in, though, De La Hoya said that he “feels great” at the lower weight.
"I feel energetic,” he said. “I feel happy. I feel like I have a little bounce. I'm taking care of myself, to make sure that I keep the speed because the power is already there."
Pacquiao added there was no way the official scale and his own machine could have produced separate results because they were both on the mark just the day before.
“After I trained, I checked my weight and came in at 146. I ate a little and the next morning, I checked my weight again and came in at 146. All of a sudden, the official scale and my scale were off by four pounds. Take those four pounds and that means Oscar is 149.”
As dangerous as the prospect of fighting a guy two pounds heavier than he should be is, Pacquiao remains unperturbed. In fact, he relished the challenge and -- a day after being referred to as King Kong by De La Hoya -- cooked up his own metaphor for the match. “It’s David vs Goliath,” Pacquiao said, laughing.
But this David is expected to have a tougher time against this Goliath.
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