Pac shaky at big -850

Apr 10, 2007 6:25 AM

Although I’ve never seen his opponent, I’m telling you Manny Pacquiao could lose his fight next Saturday.

This is no dream. It is a distinct possibility the great little Filipino fighter, one of the two best in the world according to most pound-for-pound voters, could be upended as a -850 favorite in San Antonio, the city where he trounced and finally knocked out Marco Antonio Barrera.

The stars are aligned.

First, of all, the Pac Man has had many distractions. He is running for Congress back in the Philippines. He is in the middle of a bitter tug-of-war, and lawsuits, between his alleged promoter Bob Arum and the man who gave him $250,000 in cash while surprisingly picking him up at LAX — Oscar de la Hoya.

Freddie Roach, the trainer who turned the one-handed slugger into an all-round boxer, has been away in Puerto Rico, working with de la Hoya for the bout May 5 with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Roach has promised he’ll fly in to be ringside Saturday.

But the biggest reason Pacquiao could have tremendous problems is his opponent, Jorge Solis. Although Solis has fought frequently in the United States, the Mexican boxer has been hidden in out-of-the-way spots or on undercards. I may not have seen him, but I’ve read about him.

He’s got a record of 32-0-2 with 23 knockouts. I know he has a brother, Ulises, who is a world 108-pound champion. I know he’s 27, in his prime, and at 5-10 the tallest fighter Pacquiao has faced. From his press conference quips, it seems he is very aware of the Pac Man’s great power and plans to use his reported agility in the ring to keep at safe distances.

Solis says after watching Juan Manuel Marquez get up after three first-round knockdowns to battle Pacquiao to a draw, he knows the kind of counterpunching style he’ll need. Now, I’m not saying Solis is going to give us the biggest shock since Billy Donovan didn’t leave Florida for Kentucky.

He may not be able to survive Pacquiao’s opening salvos and get into his game plan. But, Solis seems worth a +650 flyer to me. Not with the rent money, of course. Think of it as a lottery ticket.

Arce will be pushed

On the same card, Pacquiao’s rival for most exciting fighter around, Jorge Arce, challenges Cristian Mijares for a 115-pound world title. This is another close match, regardless of what the odds are.

Some people think this is one of the most anticipated all-Mexican showdowns since what, Marquez-Barrera? Mijares has not been seen making strange and colorful ring entrances. Arum begged Arce to please not ride in this time on an elephant. Last fight he came in on a horse. In fact, Mijares has never been seen in this country. But he showed he can travel by going to Japan a couple of times to win.

Also on Arum’s pay-per-view card, Brian Viloria, the underachieving Hawaiian Puncher, gets another shot at his old WBC 108-pound title. With trainer Joe Goossen now in his corner, I expect Viloria will throw punches instead of thinking about throwing punches. He should topple Edgar Sosa, a Mexican who has some quality. Two of his five losses were to Ulises Solis. One was a majority decision for the Mexican 108-pound title and there was an early split decision loss in a six-rounder.

On the Russian front!

As Davey Crockett said to Jim Bowie, not all the action is in San Antonio. Also next Saturday, though not on American TV as far as I know, there will be a heavyweight title fight in Stuttgart, Germany. Don’t ask me which of the belts is on the line; I’m not paid enough to keep track.

Suffice it to say, the Russian giant Nikolay Valuev (at 7-2, 325) is about a 3/1 favorite over another undefeated Eastern European of more modest proportions (6-1, 230-pound) Ruslan Chagraev of Uzbekestan. This bout could be considered a battle of German promoters. Valuev represents Willie Sauerland, while Chagraev fights for Klaus-Peter Kohl.

Many colleagues consider Mr. Chagraev a very live underdog, saying his split decision over John Ruiz was more convincing than Valuev’s earlier majority decision. Don’t think so.

Valuev, and PLEASE don’t ever mention Rocky Marciano in conjunction with his 46-0 record, could be more than the circus act that his co-promoter, one Don King, apparently believes. I mean, giving him peanuts! The giant, though, may be one of the better nondescript talents in the wasteland. He could have a chin of granite.

I don’t expect it to be tested seriously by Chagraev. What do I know? Pacquiao could lose!