By Ronnie Nathanielsz

Ring Magazine featherweight champion Manny Pacquiao is back to boxing after a short-lived stint as a contender in the Philippine Open 9-Ball Championships of Solar Sports in which he was knocked out in the round of 64 by Asian Games gold medallist Gandy Valle 9-4 at the Casino Filipino amphitheater in Paranaque, Monday.  Pacquiao who flew in from his  hometown in General Santos City hours before the match said he was returning home with wife Jinkee on the early morning flight yesterday to resume training for his tune-up bout on  December 11 against Thailand’s Fahsan (3K Battery) Por Thawatchai.

Fahsan was chosen as a  replacement for Australia’s WBO Intercontinental champion Gairy St. Clair  because of concerns that St. Clair who is known  for his hit-and-run tactics may not be the ideal opponent in preparation for a February 26 rematch with WBA/IBF featherweight  champion Juan Manuel Marquez who held Pacquiao to a controversial draw last May despite being decked three times in the opening round.

Fahsan has a record of 44-7-1 with 23 knockouts. After dropping his first four bouts Fahsan had an impressive run of victories including a string of wins against some 20 Filipino victims. Fahsan knocked out severa Filipinos including Ramil Anito, Maldo Mahinay, Joebar Damosmog, Benjie Concepcion, Renato Moreno, Rex Caring, Ricky Sales, Archie Ano-os and Obet Murillo among others. Fahsan was Thai featherweight champion and captured the  IBF Pan Pacific super bantamweight title with a first round KO of undefeated Ajib Salum who had a 12-0 record. In his US debut on ESPN 2, Fahsan lost a twelve round decision to undefeated Art Simonyan, the USBA champion in an IBF super bantamweight title eliminator in which the Thai fighter caught Simonyan with a solid left hook to the body in round nine and staggered the Armenian with a left counter near the end of round twelve.    

St. Clair’s trainer and manager Craig Christian has claimed that Pacquiao and his management team are “scared to fight” St. Clair, because they are “not confident of Manny’s ability to handle the talent of the Australian fighter. Christian said “Gairy will beat Pacquiao easily and after watching a tape I gave them I think they have decided Gairy has too much ability for Manny. St. Clair is too good for him and they know it. I am upset because I gave my word and the tape that I sent them showed off too much of Gairy’s talent. He now misses out on his chance to prove he is the best.”  

In his match against Valle, Pacquiao raced to a 3-0 lead with some solid pool but a problem with the lights at the venue necessitated a break of some 20 minutes which Pacquiao claimed broke his rhythm enabling Valle to come back to score a comfortable 10-4 victory. In an exclusive interview with Viva Sports/Manila Standard, Pacquiao said “they stopped for about 30 minutes and that cooled me off and I lost my concentration. I was unable to control my shots and lost. Valle is good but  I can beat him. That’s the nature of 9-ball.”  However, Pacquiao revealed that while he likes to play pool “boxing is important but I have been training hard and making sure I am in shape for the December 11 fight. I will do what needs to be done to win both for my family, our country and all those who continue to support me.”

Pacquiao said he was looking ahead to his planned rematch with WBA/IBF champion Juan Manuel Marquez in late February but would like to first concentrate on his December tune-up fight and then think about Marquez. He said “I want to first finish Marquez before thinking   about a possible fight with Erik Morales or Marco Antonio Barrera” depending on who wins in their third encounter on November 27. Pacquiao disclosed he had two sparring partners lined up for him in Davao City, one of whom was Saluday.

Pacquiao indicated that he preferred training in Mindanao because he liked to do his roadwork running up mountainsides instead of the flat terrain in Metro Manila prompting business manager Rod Nazario to look at the possibility of training in Tagaytay City. Nazario disclosed that American trainer Freddie Roach would arrive in Manila some two weeks before the December bout in order to fine-tune Pacquiao’s training for the tune-up bout against Fahsang 3K Battery.