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Friday, December 5, 2008

Confident Pacquiao ready for de la Hoya boxing match

MANILA (AFP) - - Philippine boxing icon Manny Pacquiao said he was focused and ready for his weekend "dream match" with American Oscar de la Hoya.

Pacquiao, the World Boxing Council lightweight champion who is acknowledged by many experts as the world's best pound-for-pound fighter, said he was "ready and excited" going into Saturday's fight, billed by promoters as the "dream match" against the much bigger de la Hoya.

"I am prepared for the Saturday fight. This will be a good fight," Pacquiao told local radio from Las Vegas on the eve of the official weigh-in Friday.

"I am focused on the fight. I am ready, I am excited," he said, adding that he was counting on his legion of fans back home to pray for him.

Pacquiao is a superstar in the boxing-crazy Philippines, where practically everything grinds to a halt during live broadcasts of his fights.

The "dream match" is expected to generate a purse of 100 million dollars to be divided between the two fighters, with "Golden Boy" de la Hoya taking in the lion's share at 60 percent.

The non-title bout is to be fought at the 147-pound welterweight limit, the first in this category for Pacquiao, who has won four world titles at four lower weight divisions.

With a 47-3 record, with two drawn and 35 knockouts, Pacquiao is the current WBC lightweight champion after knocking out Mexican David Diaz in June. He is the first Asian to hold belts in four different weight classes.

De la Hoya, who has won world titles in six different weight classes, meanwhile has not fought as a 147-pounder in seven years. He has held belts in six different weight classes and brings to the ring a 39-5 record, with 30 knockouts.

Pacquiao, known for his relentless combinations, is expected to use his speed to attack de la Hoya's body, his coach Freddie Roach has told the Philippine press.

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