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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pacquiao fever proving contagious - Las Vegas notes

Fight week kicked off in Las Vegas as usual with the fighters' arrivals, one of the few opportunities, apart from Friday's weigh-in, for fans to see the two boxers in the flesh. Hatton is based at the MGM Grand, but Pacquiao has set up camp down the road at the Mandalay Bay. And Pacquiao's arrival proved something of a calamity.

When Pacquiao's bus pulled up outside the Mandalay Bay's main lobby, it was immediately engulfed by Pacquiao fans, including the Filipino basketball team, as well as journalists and camera crews. With no roped off area inside the lobby, the swarm of people moved inside while security men tried to keep people back.

After a few minutes, during which it became clear to organisers that the crowds could not be controlled. So Pacquiao and his team, looking like a Pied Piper, and surrounded by the swarm of people, moved through the casino at high speed, eventually arriving at the lifts to the exclusive apartments at the Mandalay Bay, where the doors were shut and two burly security guards refused to let anyone through - media event over.

One journalist who did better than anyone else was Mike Costello, the commentator for Radio 5 Live, who not only got close to Pacquiao, but got into his apartment. Mike managed to get himself to the heart of the media throng in the lobby and when the Pacquiao team began to move off, he was swept along with them.

"I was stuck between some security guards and I think there were some moments when my feet weren't touching the floor," Costello said. "I just got swept along and I ended up in the lift with Pacquiao - I think I was the only no Filipino in there. I was interviewing him right up to when the microwave went off and his soup was ready, so he sat down for lunch."


Talking of Pacquiao fever, the Philippines Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has appealed to dozens of Filipino legislators to abandon plans to visit Las Vegas to cheer for Pacquiao because of the fears of swine flu, which has claimed its first death in the United States. "My personal advice to our congressmen is to postpone their trip until the situation becomes clearer and avoid visiting places close to Mexico," he said. When it comes to Pacquiao, don't expect them to listen.


The betting in Las Vegas has almost entirely been on Pacquiao. Hatton to win is now rated at +230 (that's 2.3/1) from an opening price of +180, while Pacquiao is -270, from an opening of -220. Pacquiao to win by stoppage is now an odds-on shot, seen as 10/13,


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