By Greg Heakes
LAS VEGAS, May 7, 2011 (AFP) – Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino congressman who holds two world titles, puts his World Boxing Organization title on the line when he meets Shane Mosley in a welterweight bout on Saturday.
Pacquiao and challenger Mosley weighed in Friday for their title fight in front of a standing-room only crowd of about 6,500 at the MGM Grand Garden arena.
Pacquiao, who is a 6-1 favorite, tipped the scales at 145 pounds and American Mosley was 147 pounds.
The 32-year-old Pacquiao stripped off his red and blue track suit and stepped onto the scale wearing just his shorts and white socks as a roar went up from the mostly Filipino crowd.
“I believe Shane Mosley is a good fighter and he trained his hardest for this fight so I have had to train even harder,” said Pacquiao, who is also the WBC super welterweight champion.
The two boxers shook hands and embraced but the congeniality ends here as they make final preparations for Saturday contest.
The 39-year-old Mosley is hoping to dethrone Pacquiao who is making the second defense of his WBO title he won by beating Miguel Cotto in the same arena in November 2009.
Mosley, who arrived wearing a light blue track suit, said he could hear the roar of Pacquiao’s supporters back stage.
“There are a lot of fans here and I hear a lot of Manny’s fans. It will be a big task tomorrow when I fight Manny,” said Mosley, who is the only boxer to beat Oscar de la Hoya twice.
Pacquiao fans started lining up outside the front doors of the arena eight hours before Friday’s weigh-in to get a glimpse of their boxing hero.
They came draped in Filipino flags and wearing yellow which is the color Pacquiao has asked them to wear on Saturday. Tickets were sold out five weeks in advanced for the fight. Many who were there didn’t have tickets to the fight so this was their only chance to see Pacquiao in person.
By noon the crowd outside the front entrance to the Grand Garden had swelled to thousands and security had trouble at times keeping the walk ways clear and making sure no bottles got inside the arena. It was mainly a festive mood — lots of alcohol but in plastic cups — and no major incidents.
Thousands more who showed up too late were turned away and couldn’t get in for the main event weigh-in which lasted only about 10 minutes.
Americo Canque flew in from Manila to see the fight. This is the fourth time he has traveled to the United States to see the Sarangani congressman fight.
“I think Manny will knock him out in seven rounds,” said the 55-year-old electrician. “Manny has too much speed he is very strong. Mosley has the experience but he is too old.”
Canque said the entire country of 96 million will come to a standstill when the fight happens.
“He is more popular than our president,” Canque said.
Rose Regino was first in line Friday and part of a group of about 20 Pacquiao fans that showed up at 7 in the morning.
“Manny is going to fight like Bruce Lee,” said the 40-year-old banker, who lives in Las Vegas. “We are so excited.”
Las Vegas’ Keo Moya is pulling for Mosley to win but he was definitely in the minority.
The 10-year-old from Las Vegas said the longer the fight goes, the better it is for Pacquiao.
“If Mosley has a chance, it is in the first three rounds,” Moya said. “He is older so he needs to attack first. If that doesn’t happen then Pacquiao will win.”
Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, says this week he wants the Filipino southpaw to force the action enough to throw Mosley off his guard.
“Most older fighters go forward well but they can’t go backwards in the ring,” Roach said. “They can be aggressive but if you can get them on their heels and they are kind of lost. The legs don’t get them out the way like they used to.”
Roach insists this has been one of their best training camps ever for a title fight. He is hoping “Pac-Man” can do something no other boxer has ever been able to achieve and deliver the first knockout of Mosley in his 18-year career.
Mosley has rarely even been knocked down in a career that has seen him win four world titles.
Roach said one of the keys to beating Mosley is for Pacquiao to keep throwing punches at the end of exchanges instead of resisting the temptation to clinch.
“Shane likes to hit and grab. When he grabs he is reaching for you and that leaves him open for a punch,” Roach said. “We worked on that a lot.
“I think that is where we are going to beat Shane — down the middle.”