By Rafael Soto & James Blears
More than 10,000 fans packed Arena Mexico to catch the last leg of media tour to promote the fourth battle between career rivals Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. The fourth fight is scheduled for December 8th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. HBO Pay-Per-View will carry the contest.
The most telling moment was in the dying embers of the event after all the ballyhoo, face off and speeches had cleared the cordite laden air, following the pyrotechnics display, when Manny gave his old rival a friendly and familiar pat on the back.
Both have received controversial decisions in Las Vegas. Juan Manuel swore he certainly wouldn’t fight the fourth scrap there. Top Rank President, who was at hand, enthused that El Nuevo Arena: “Has to be one of the greatest in the World.” But…..it’s going to be at the MGM Grand on December 8th anyway!
Manny decked out in a sober black banker’s suit with an incongruous cheesecloth shirt. was lustily and cheerfully booed by a lively and spirited, but not ill tempered audience, in pantomime fashion.
He thanked a small contingent of flag waving Filipino supporters for coming out to say hi. And he drew a sprinkling of applause, by modestly praising Juan Manuel as a very tough boxer and a great warrior, wishing him luck and saying the aim’s to give the fans a great fight.
Marco Antonio Barrera who’s fought them both and is now a TV Azteca commentator, suggested that to win Juan Manuel has to show a degree more of aggression.
Juan Manuel’s sage Trainer Nacho Beristain who’s looking somewhat frail, was robust in his prediction. He insisted his fighter had won the first three and will win number four. It drew one helluva roar from the home crowd.
Casually attired in jeans and a very loud pale check jacket with a screaming red thread Juan Manuel vowed he’s going to arrive tremendously prepared on the night of December 8th, and he’s going to triumph. He acknowledged that it’s going to be a difficult hard fight, but Manny would fail…”Because I’m better! On December 8th, we’re going to be celebrating the triumph, coming Christmas and new year and everything we’ve done!