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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pacquiao's Hollywood-to-Vegas Express boarding

If traffic becomes slower than usual this afternoon on the 101 south and 10 east, it might have something to with the 56-seat behemoth of a bus that is packing boxing's pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao and a large entourage that some around the Filipino star have come to call "Manny's Merry Men."

Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, has spent thousands to rent the bus that's covered with a blanket screen of the boxer's photos as it embarks today from Pacquiao's training compound in a modest Hollywood strip mall toward the 15 freeway north to the bright lights of Las Vegas, where Pacquiao on Saturday will fight England's Ricky Hatton in the biggest bout of the year thus far, at MGM Grand.

The bus is part of Pacquiao's superstitious belief that he fights best when he drives to Vegas and stays at Mandalay Bay, which he will do. After his impressive last fight that sent Oscar De La Hoya into retirement, Pacquiao has been given his most comfortable ride yet. More than 10 televisions screens are located in the bus, as is the "Best Pound-for-Pound Trainer" trophy that will be given to either Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, or Hatton's entertaining trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr.

Both fighters will participate in their "grand arrivals" at Mandalay Bay (Pacquiao, noon) and at MGM Grand (Hatton, 1:30 p.m.) today, followed by their final news conference Wednesday. The Times will be there to cover all the action on


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