Dubai : Fresh from his demolition of Miguel Cotto last November, pound-for-pound king Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao will defend his WBO welterweight crown on Sunday against Ghanaian Joshua "The Grand Master" Clottey in "The Event" fight card at the Cowboys Stadium in Texas.
Pacquiao, the first boxer in the world to win world titles in seven different weight divisions, will be the odds-on favourite on fight night, although Clottey will arguably be the biggest and strongest fighter the Filipino has ever faced.
Pacquiao himself, as he often does, remains modest with his words, stating in his latest online column that he tries not to be overconfident going into the fight.
The rest of Team Pacquiao, however, has been oozing confidence.
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer for the past eight years, told Gulf News in a phone interview just before their last training session on Thursday that Pacquiao can end the bout within six or seven rounds.
"We can stop him in the late rounds — between six and seven. It might not be a knockout but we can stop him with a flurry of punches," said Roach.
"Manny is in his best shape, at the top of his game and in his sharpest condition. Clottey has never seen a guy like Manny Pacquiao before. I don't think he will be able to handle it," said Roach.
Dodie Penalosa, a former world champion and another member of Team Pacquiao, told Gulf News in a separate interview that the Filipino champion is in such excellent shape that even Floyd Mayweather had to find an excuse to dodge a fight with Pacquiao.
"Manny will beat Clottey, that's for sure. Even Mayweather knows how good Manny is at this stage of his career and that is the reason why they did not want to fight him. Mayweather is just making an excuse not to fight Pacquiao because he knows he will need a much longer preparation against Manny," said Penalosa, who will miss the fight in Texas as he is preparing his other boxers for a possible fight card in Dubai.
Mayweather was supposed to slug it out with the Filipino this month, but the bout was called off when both parties failed to agree on the terms for the fight.
More expected from Pacquiao
On Pacquiao's rumoured leg injury, Roach clarified that it was nothing serious. He said it was merely a "nuisance", nothing more than the normal muscle pain sustained during practice.
Roach also made it clear that fans can expect Pacquiao to fight again after the bout with Clottey and that a date with Mayweather is still on the menu – even if Pacquiao wins in his bid for a seat in the Philippine Congress during the May 10 national elections.
"This will not be Manny's last fight. We are still aiming to fight Mayweather later this year, between September to November," said Roach.
"Even if Manny will win in the Philippine elections, he can still fight with Mayweather. For sure he can manage to prepare for the fight," he said.
Roach also thanked Pacquiao's fans in the UAE, particularly the Filipino expatriates, for supporting their boxing icon. "I hope that the fans in the UAE, especially the Filipino expats, will continue to support Manny in all his fights," he said.
Where to watch to fight
If you missed the pay-per-view at TFC, you can watch the fight from TV screens at Rocky's Cafe at the Regent Hotel in Dubai
Read special coverage: Manny Pacquiao