Confident Pacquiao arrives in Vegas

LAS VEGAS - There is a chill in the desert air but Manny Pacquiao is raring to turn up the heat with his fists of fury as the Filipino arrived here Monday night looking and sounding confident of settling the issue with Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez this weekend at the MGM Grand.

"Ready to rumble," Pacquiao declared as soon as he set foot in his ritzy suite at The Hotel, drawing inspiration from the famous battlecry of ring announcer non-pareil Michael Buffer.

Pacquiao's adviser Mike Koncz, who traveled here way ahead of the convoy, requested that a New York cut steak - cooked well-done - and steamed asparagus, be sent to the Filipino icon's room.

Pacquiao worked out for the last time at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles moments before making the 300-mile journey here and he displayed speed and skills that mesmerized those who were given the privilege to watch his final sparring that lasted for four rounds.

"That's just a sample (of what I will show on Saturday)," said Pacquiao, who remains the betting favorite.

Oddsmakers have installed Pacquiao a 4-1 favorite to break Marquez's heart when they collide for the fourth time at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Marquez is such an underdog that a knockout win is listed at 5-1, while him winning a decision is 4-1.

Pacquiao remains the bettors' choice that he is 9-5 (knockout win) and an even pick for a decision victory. A repeat of their first fight, a draw in May 2004, is so far-fetched that it is pegged at 22-1.

The likelihood of the fight going 11 full rounds is -255 ($255 wins $100), while the possibility of it ending earlier is +185 ($100 wins $185).

Pacquiao will train until Thursday although he won't be pushing himself to the limit since trainer Freddie Roach wants him to just relax in the final days leading to Saturday night's much-awaited clash.

Top Rank is holding formal arrival rites for Pacquiao and Marquez on Tuesday with the Mexican taking center stage at 12 noon and Pacquiao grabbing the limelight at 12:30.

Marquez arrived here slightly ahead of Pacquiao, using a private plane leased by Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum to ferry him and his team from Los Angeles.

Marquez is so juiced up that he is not entertaining thoughts of the fight going 12 full rounds to prevent a repeat of their three epic duels dating back to almost a decade ago.

The plan for Marquez is to dominate every round and look for a knockout.

Pacquiao and Roach are also intent in rendering the score sheets meaningless with a stoppage "to shut them up," said Roach.


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