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Tyson Backs Pacquiao in De La Hoya Fight

Inquirer.net, Sports Feature, Francis Ochoa/Philippine Daily Inquirer Posted: Dec 05, 2008

LAS VEGASAs if words were not enough to drive his point across, former undisputed heavyweight champion Iron Mike Tyson stepped back, bobbed, weaved and then ducked a phantom left hook.

This is how you do it against Oscar De La Hoya, Tyson told Manny Pacquiaos assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez.

With Pacquiao still the underdog in his Dream Match with Oscar De La Hoya, Tyson dropped by the IBA Gym here Thursday to catch the Filipinos last training session before the fight on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

Although on the short end of betting with less than 48 hours left before the fight, the odds against the man whom De La Hoya alluded to as King Kong continued to slip with the influx of Filipino bettors who are wagering on Pacquiao.

The greatest plunge in the odds was on the probability of Pacquiao knocking out De La Hoya. That proposition opened at 13-2, before slipping to 9-2. In less than 24 hours, that moved to 3-2 as people started putting faith in the Pacmans punching power.

For most of his stay in the gym, Tyson, garbed in a pink shirt and dark gray slacks, kept to himself in one corner, standing up only when Pacquiao climbed the ring to begin his workout.

He (Tyson) said Manny must keep moving the head, Fernandez said.

Tyson also noted that De La Hoyas background as an amateur fighter makes him a deadly tactician.

He wants Manny to move in and not to back away too far because thats where Oscars jab-straight-hook (combination) comes to play, Fernandez said.

Keep attacking the body

He also quoted Tyson as saying it would be best for the Filipino ring hero to keep attacking De La Hoyas body because sooner or later the Golden Boys guard would start to lower.

It was nice for Mike Tyson to come, said trainer Freddie Roach, who once handled the boxer formerly known as the baddest man on the planet.

Mike gave me a little advice, Roach added. He said be careful with moving back in straight lines because Oscar has a long reach. Sensible stuff. He wants Manny to make sure he doesnt come in with the head first, but instead come in behind his punches.

Free tickets for Tyson

The 42-year-old disgraced heavyweight champion stayed for nearly the entire time Pacquiao worked out, following the Filipinos every move as he skipped rope, worked the mitts, hit the double end or pounded the speed ball.

He left just as Pacquiao was about to wrap up his final workout. Roach said Tyson still had no tickets to the fight but Pacquiao took care of that, providing four tickets to the man who was once the youngest heavyweight champion of the world.

Pacquiao, the reigning World Boxing Council lightweight champion, is expected to do walks and stretches on Friday and on the morning of the fight. The official weigh-in is on Friday at the MGM Grand.

Pacquiao, according to Roach, now weighs 146 pounds. He will have breakfast and a short walk in the hallway outside his suite at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay before proceeding to the weigh-in.

Well have it in at 146 or 147, Roach said. Well have breakfast and then well check his weight. Thats about it.

Training in secrecy

Were good, were happy, the two-time Trainer of the Year added. We have nothing to worry about. Were well prepared and we have nothing more to do.

Pacquiao made the most of his final workout, going four rounds with the mitts with Roach. He also shadow-boxed with intensity, worked the double end and the speed ball before skipping rope and doing crunches to wrap things up.

Several times, his trainers had to restrain Pacquiao as he kept shouting one more at the end of every workout.

De La Hoya, meanwhile, continued to train in seclusion. He is also expected to easily make the weight after undergoing a training regimen that was aimed to retain his strength at a lighter weight.

For the past months, he trained at 145 lb and flew into this ritzy gambling city at 143.8 lb, according to Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer.

Odds-wise, De La Hoya is now just a minus 155 favorite and Pacquiao a plus 125 underdog. That means, a bet of $155 on a De La Hoya win will earn only $100, while a wager of $100 on a Pacquiao victory will win $125.

Scribes pick De La Hoya

Among serious boxing writers, however, De La Hoya continues to be the overwhelming favorite. An Internet site polled 17 of its scribes and 13 picked De La Hoya to win.

However, almost all of those who picked De La Hoya said that Pacquiao stood to be the big winner whether or not De La Hoya defeated him. A De La Hoya victory would only make the Golden Boy look like a bully, the poll said, while a Pacquiao victory would cement the Filipinos claim to the mythical pound-for-pound throne.

Roach admits he was skeptical of the whole idea of a De La Hoya-Pacquiao match at first.

I honestly never thought it was possible, he said. But then I saw Oscar with small guys and southpaws. He has trouble with both. So I pushed for it hard.

Its basically because of what it will do for Mannys life. Its the icing on the cake. It makes him a superstar.

Said Pacquiao: This is the most important fight of my life.

Power is gone

Results have been mixed for fighters who jump up in weight. It turned out badly for Kelly Pavlik recently, but Roy Jones Jr., who started his career at middleweight, made a jump to defeat World Boxing Association heavyweight champ John Ruiz.

Like Roach, Pacquiao believes his speed will help him overcome De la Hoyas 4-inch height advantage.

Hes getting slow and the power is not there any more, Pacquiao said of De la Hoya.

And there is the question of whether coming down in weight will adversely affect De la Hoya.

In his last six fights, De la Hoya has a record of 3-3 and he has looked drained in the latter stages of each fight, absorbing myriad blows in the final rounds.

De La Hoyas weaknesses

Some pundits have predicted his effort to make the 147 weight will exacerbate the problem, although his trainer for this bout, Mexicos Ignacio Nacho Beristain, says they have adjusted his training regimen to prevent a late-fight letdown.

Its obvious that Oscar cant be the same fighter at 35 that he was at 20, but his preparation remained almost the same, Beristain told Agence France-Presse.

Now we have corrected that error. We put more emphasis on physical conditioning so he can go the distance if necessary.

Certainly, Pacquiaos famously aggressive style will offer De la Hoya no respite.

Roach believes the American has weaknesses Pacquiao can exploit.

Im not saying were not going to knock him out, Roach said. If it happens, fine. Well take it. What were going to do is break him down round by round, Roach said.

Were working on staying away from the jab and the left hook. The hook is a power shot. But Oscar makes a mistake with his jab. Im not saying what it is, but Ive seen it. (Continue visiting www.inquirer.net for updates and coverage of the fight) With a report from AFP

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