As a two-time boxing champion, matinee idol, singer and the hero to a nation, it’s difficult to fathom Manny Pacquiao (39-3-2, 30 KOs) would ever have much time alone, but during the training camp for his upcoming fight with Hector Velazquez (41-10-2, 30 KOs) of Mexico, trainer Freddie Roach made certain of it. Roach closed his Wild Card Gym to all unofficial guests, essentially isolating the Pac Man, allowing him to concentrate on what he should and what he does best, which is fighting. “It's been all business in the workouts and fans will see those results Saturday night,” said Roach.
Roach admits handpicking Velazquez, knowing full well he’s a straight forward fighter whom his man should skillfully pick apart, look good against and probably stop before the middle of the bout. But Velazquez is a gritty and determined veteran who is bigger than Pacquiao, having fought his entire career at super featherweight. Add into the equation words like durable, sturdy and knockout power and it becomes evident he’s no pushover. If Freddie Roach wanted a soft touch for his charge, he’s doing Pac Man no favors. Pacquiao has a habit of making fights harder and more exciting than they need be and thus this scrap should be a nail biter for as long as it lasts. Velazquez may trouble Pacquiao for the first two or three rounds and don’t be surprised if Pacquiao hits the deck. The Filipino wonder boy will crank up the heat though and should prove to be too fast, too strong and too skilled for Velazquez. After the first few rounds, the accuracy, hard punches and blinding combinations of Pacquiao will take their toll on a game but limited Velazquez. Pac Man via TKO round 5.
* El Terrible Erik Morales (48-2, 34 KOs) squares off against 1996 Olympian Zahir Raheem (26-1, 18 KOs) and attempts to do his part in paving the way for a big payday rematch with Pacquiao. Morales is fighting at 135 lbs. for only the second time in his career and should be tested by his opponent. Raheem has only lost once in his 27 fights, dropping a unanimous decision to fellow Olympian Rocky Juarez back in July of 2004. Raheem is good, but Morales is a future Hall of Famer, and therein lies what will make the difference in the outcome. Morales is 18-2 in championship bouts and at only 29 years of age has already fought and won against a virtual who’s who of talented fighters in his career: Marco Antonio Barrera, Wayne McCullough, Jesus Chavez, Paulie Ayala, Junior Jones, Daniel Zaragoza and Hector Acero-Sanchez. Morales is a cut above Raheem who has yet to experience a big-time fight of this magnitude. Raheem will give it his all in a battle of skills and wills but Morales wins hands down. Morales TKO round 6.
* Both Pacquiao and Morales have been installed as overwhelming favorites by the odds makers but neither can’t afford to look past their opponent. This is unlikely though, and if all goes according to planned both fighters will win impressively to set the stage for their rematch. In a sport filled with misgivings, one thing is certain; a rematch between Morales and Pacquiao is a big plus for the sport of boxing and craved by boxing fans around the world.The “Double Trouble” card is being promoted by Top Rank and will be shown on HBO.
* Also on the card, WBC junior flyweight champion Eric Ortiz defends his title against the undefeated Brian Viloria. The Hawaiian Punch has knocked out five of his last six opponents and three of the four losses suffered by Ortiz have been via KO. In what could turn out to be a slugfest, Viloria TKO 10 Ortiz.
News and Notes
The WBA has ordered its former featherweight “super champion” Juan Manuel Marquez to face “regular” champion Chris John of Indonesia later this year to determine who will be the sole champion of the division. Marquez had been the IBF champion and the WBA super champion, but was stripped by both organizations for failing to defend the title against IBF mandatory contender Fahprakorb Rakkiatgym. This comes after Marquez turned down $750,000 to fight Manny Pacquiao and $1.5 million to fight Erik Morales.
WBC featherweight champ In Jin Chi is back in training and is set to face newly crowned WBC interim featherweight champion Humberto Soto. Chi has been out of action for the past seven months with a hamstring injury.The long awaited IBF minimum weight title fight between Muhammad Rachman and Omar Soto is apparently now headed for Atlantic City. The bout has been postponed twice, originally having first been scheduled in Jakarta, Indonesia and then later in Papua New Guinea. The card is promoted by Guilty Boxing who won the purse bid for the fight last month.
WBO bantamweight champion Ratanachai Sor Vorapin of Thailand defeated Filipino Pedro Malco by a ten round decision last night at theBlaisdell Center Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii. Sor Vorapin is now scheduled to defend his title against Jhonny Gonzalez October 29th at a site yet to be determined. Gonzalez won his last fight in spectacular fashion on September 1st when he knocked out William Gonzalez in three rounds.
Club Nova, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
Bennett (16-1-3, 11 KOs) TKO5 Plaisakda Singwangcha (26-9, 22 KOs)
Chaopraya Waterfront Pier, Nonthaburi, Thailand
WBO #1 Superflyweight Pramuansak Phosuwan (29-0, 17 KOs) KO2 Jun Pader (1-10, 0 KOs)
Ratanapol Sor Vorapin (40-6-1, 31 KOs) KO3 Arbon Beyer (0-1)
WBC#1 / WBA#4 super bantamweight Toshiaki Nishioka (26-4-3, 15 KOs), UD10 Pedrito Laurente (16-9-1, 7 KOs)
RCTI Studio, Jakarta, Indonesia
Ali Rochmad (33-4-1, 25 KOs) KO5 Nathan Sting (28-7-1, 14 KOs)
September 10 – Los Angeles, CA
Manny Pacquiao vs. Hector Velazquez (Vacant WBC International Super Featherweight Title)
Erik Morales vs. Zahir Raheem Vacant (WBC International Lightweight Title)
Eric Ortiz vs. Brian Viloria (WBC Junior Flyweight Title)
September 19 – Los Angeles, CA
Lorenzo Parra vs. Takefumi Sakata (WBA Flyweight Title)
September 21 – Bangkok, Thailand
WBC #3 ranked Saenghiran Lookbanyai vs. Joven Jorda (WBC ABCO Super Bantamweight Title)
WBA#1 lightweight Prawet Singwancha will also be on the card against an opponent to be announced. Wingwancha was scheduled to face Ebo Elder, but was denied a visa to enter the U.S. and was then replaced with the #2 contender, Lavka Sim.
September 25 – Yokohama Arena, Yokohama, Japan
Hozumi Hasegawa vs. Diego Morales (WBC Bantamweight Title)
Yutaka Niida vs. Eriberto Gejon (WBA Minimumweight Title)
October 10 – Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Pongsaklek Wongjamkam vs. Daisule Naito (WBC Flyweight Title)
October 15 – Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Wladimir Sidorenko vs. Manabu Fukushima (WBA Bantamweight Title)