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    Pacman picked to win inside eight
    By Joaquin Henson Updated Friday September 13, 2013 - 12:00am
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    Manny Pacquiao

    MANILA, Philippines - The fight isn't expected to go the distance and Freddie Roach's assistant Marvin Somodio predicted the other day Manny Pacquiao will knock out Brandon Rios within eight of their 12-round tussle for the vacant WBO International welterweight crown at the Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort Hotel in Macau on Nov. 24.

    Rios, 27, is making his welterweight debut after campaigning in the lightweight and lightwelterweight ranks. Somodio, the former Filipino minimumweight boxer whom Roach personally picked from the Shape Up Gym in Baguio to work with him at the Wild Card sweat shop in Hollywood, said the added weight will make Rios stronger but "it won't be enough to beat Manny."

    Pacquiao, 34, is determined to beat Rios decisively. A loss could bring down the curtains in his career as Pacquiao is coming off back-to-back defeats to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez. A win will resuscitate his boxing life and could lead to a showdown against the Oct. 12 winner of the Bradley-Marquez duel and ultimately, Floyd Mayweather Jr. who faces Saul (Canelo) Alvarez of Mexico in Las Vegas this weekend.

    "In terms of power and speed, Rios will be swamped by Manny," said Somodio. "I think the fight won't go over eight rounds. All Manny needs to do is focus on the fight and not to get careless. There's no reason he'll lose."

    Last December, Pacquiao got careless in trying to mow down Marquez in their fourth meeting in Las Vegas. With a second left in the fateful sixth round, Pacquiao went for the kill as he pressed the Mexican against the ropes. Pacquiao went down from a long left in the third but returned the favor in the fifth. As the sixth came to a close, he staggered a bloodied Marquez who appeared ready to go. Pacquiao charged in and as he recoiled to deliver the coup de grace, Marquez threw a right by instinct. Marquez' eyes weren't even on Pacquiao. The right landed flush on Pacquiao's face and the impact was frightful because the Filipino's forward movement had a lot of momentum. In local parlance, it was the classic "salubong" punch. Somodio implied that with Rios' devastating power, Pacquiao can't afford to be as careless. If Pacquiao gets hit squarely by Rios, it will mean trouble.

    Somodio said Pacquiao's career in politics shouldn't be a distraction. As a two-time congressman, he knows where to draw the line between boxing and politics. He's now working his body into shape with trainer Buboy Fernandez in General Santos City. Roach will fly in early next month to join Pacquiao in camp after he works Miguel Cotto's corner against Delvin Rodriguez in Orlando, Florida, on Oct. 5. Somodio will arrive two weeks later with strength and conditioning coach Gavin McMillan.

    Somodio said he's confident Pacquiao will eventually regain his world championship. He lost the WBO welterweight title to Bradley on a highly-disputed split 12-round decision in June last year then lost to Marquez on a knockout. It's unusual for Pacquiao not to sit on a throne since he's the only fighter in history to capture world titles in eight different divisions. "Manny will become a world champion again," said Somodio.

    As for Pacquiao's sparring partners, Somodio said Roach has lined up Englishman Liam (Punch) Vaughan and unbeaten Chinese Yang Lian Hui. Both are fresh from scoring first-round knockouts. Vaughan, 23, stopped Mike Alexander in one round in Glendale last August while Yang, 28, blitzed Roger Rosa in Shelton, Washington, last June.

    Vaughan, a lightwelterweight, has an 8-1 record, with 2 KOs. His only loss was a four-round decision to Robert Dixon in Tyne and Wear, England, in December 2011. Vaughan has won his last five fights, four in the US. Yang boasts a 13-0 card, with 9 KOs and a No Contest. The 5-7 1/2 lightweight lives in Anyang, South Korea. He has fought nine of his fights in South Korea, two in Mainland China, one in Macau and his last two in Shelton, Washington. Known as Ik Yang, he's scheduled to see action in the Pacquiao-Rios undercard in Macau where in June last year, the slugger halted Indonesian Elly Ray in the eighth.

    Somodio's application for a US visa was rejected twice before he was issued the pass on his third try after filing for P-1 status last year. The US Embassy gave Somodio a three-year visa. Somodio is now an integral member in Roach's working staff and rotates with the celebrated trainer in punch-mitt drills with several fighters including Cotto, Zou Shiming and Ruslan Provodnikov. He recently met Manila nurse Melissa Limbo in Los Angeles and they are now in a "serious" relationship. Somodio said they've discussed marriage which will come "at the right time."

     

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