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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

'Never lost in Texas' - Roach warns

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Pacquiao vs Clottey
By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) Updated March 10, 2010 12:00 AM

DALLAS – As the chartered Boeing 737 was coming to a complete stop at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport late Monday evening, fond memories of Texas must have suddenly crossed Freddie Roach’s mind.

“Never lost in Texas,” said Roach, still seated near the front row of the narrow-bodied aircraft that flew Manny Pacquiao and 140 others, his family and friends, some members of the media from Los Angeles.

Roach was unmindful of all the fun and noise inside the plane during its two-hour 20-minute flight, unmindful that in one section a card game was being played, and “Pacman,” the boxer’s Jack Russell Terrier, was running along the aisle.

He had his mind focused on boxing.

Roach, of course, had guided Pacquiao to two victories at the Alamodome in San Antonio, the first being a very big one, a stunning 11th round knockout of Marco Antonio Barrera in 2003, followed by an eighth-round KO of Jorge Solis in 2007.

Roach said he also steered lightweight Juan Lazcano to five victories in El Paso over the last few years, and also remembered that in March 21, 1984, more than 25 years ago, he fought Delio Palacios at the Rodeo Arena in Pasadena, Texas.

The four-time Trainer of the Year said he was a 4-1 underdog when he beat Palacios via a unanimous decision. The noise made it quite difficult to understand Roach as saying like he knocked his fancied opponent down once during the contest.

Roach said he plans to keep his perfect record intact when Pacquiao, unbeaten in nearly five years, stakes his WBO welterweight crown against the big, strong and hungry fighter from Ghana, Joshua Clottey.

“Yeah, we want to do that,” said Roach, who got off the plane just carrying a black back-pack and his three-inch body armor which he puts on whenever he works the mitts with his hard-hitting fighter in training.

Pacquiao wrapped up his sparring Monday noon at the Wild Card Gym in LA, and before 6 p.m. he boarded the plane to Dallas. He sparred four rounds with Ray Beltran and closed the book with a total of 142 rounds in over seven weeks.

Pacquiao, the overwhelming favorite in his fight with Clottey, stepped out of the plane with his wife Jinkee, and was met at the tarmac by Top Rank executives Ricardo Jimenez and Lee Samuels, publicist Fred Sternburg and a 12-degree weather.

They were led to a couple of black Lincoln Navigators that brought them straight to the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center, close to 30 minutes away from the airport and located “in the middle of nowhere,” according to the bus driver.

Those who joined Pacquiao on the plane, all of them, filled three buses that also took them to the same hotel where Pacquiao will stay for the rest of the week.

It was not clear, however, if Pacquiao would pay for all their accommodation.

“Who are these people?” said Jimenez, who looked so amused that so many people had joined Pacquiao in the trip. “How did you get all these people inside the plane?” was the comment made by Top Rank photographer, Cris Farina.

But again, it was Pacquiao’s wish for all these people to join him in the trip.

At the hotel, Pacquiao was welcomed by Top Rank big boss Bob Arum who did not keep the boxer up. He went straight to his suite and was ready to tuck himself in, at around midnight, when scribes tried to get a hold of him.

Pacquiao will hold another media workout Tuesday afternoon at the specially built training facility at the basement of the hotel. Clottey held his Monday afternoon, and Top Rank will make sure they don’t bump into each other when they train until Thursday.


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