Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pacquiao hits Vegas as heavy favorite

By Abac Cordero
The Philippine Star

LAS VEGAS– The numbers that are reflected in the giant electronic billboard of Mandalay Bay’s betting station suggest a one-sided contest this coming Saturday.

Now it’s even harder to think that Manny Pacquiao is facing Miguel Cotto, the WBO welterweight champion who is supposed to be the younger, bigger and stronger fighter.

Pacquiao arrived here in Sin City late Monday evening after a delayed five-hour trip from Los Angeles, and amid all the bright, colorful lights stood as the overwhelming favorite.

Based on the odds, the 30-year-old Filipino superstar is now a -350 favorite, meaning you need to place $350 just to win a hundred bucks.

And for those rooting for Cotto, there’s everything to win and nothing to lose now. The 29-year-old champion from Puerto Rico is placed at +270, meaning you get $270 dollars for every bet of $100.

But during a quick stopover at Barstow, the halfway point of the LA-Vegas trip, Pacquiao tried to make fun of it all.

“Nanginginig na ako (I’m shaking),” he said when asked how he felt as the fight draws closer.

And you can feel the sarcasm when he added, “Malakas eh, at mabilis (He’s strong and he’s fast).

But later on, inside his suite, he turned serious, and before tucking himself in, said, “Ayoko isipin na llamado ako (I don’t want to think of myself as the favorite).”

Pacquiao is so favored that fight fans are looking for a knockout win for the reigning pound-for-pound champion who climbs the ring six months after a spectacular second-round knockout of Ricky Hatton at the MGM Grand.

For the Hatton fight, Pacquiao was a -270 favorite and Hatton at +230, and eveybody saw what happened.

Odds that this fight won’t last the distance are at -155 and that it would are at +125. It’s now 1/2 that Pacquiao would win by a knockout and 6/1 if it’s Cotto up on his feet in case of a knockout.

Pacquiao left LA a little past five in the afternoon, on board his gray SUV, together with his wife, Jinkee, and a couple of friends. Behind them were a few other vehicles and the customized Pacquiao bus.

Everybody went straight to Pacquiao’s suite at Mandalay Bay where a feast of Filipino food was prepared beforehand.

Pacquiao, with no problems at all with his weight, enjoyed his dinner of bulalo, kaldereta, chicken and rice.

“Grabe kumain, lamon (He splurged on them),” said Onyok Velasco, the silver medalist of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in the 48 kg division. He has become a close friend of Pacquiao’s after they appeared in a movie together.

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