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Pacquiao fans travel far to see boxing hero

Manny Pacquiao poses for photos during the weigh-in for his welterweight fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, in Las Vegas. Pacquiao will take on Marquez on Saturday in Las Vegas. AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

LAS VEGAS — Mele Stowers is part of Manny Pacquiao’s legion of dedicated supporters who think nothing of traveling lengthy distances to see their Filipino boxing hero in person.

Stowers, who flew to Las Vegas with her husband from their home in Honolulu, Hawaii, was first in line to get in the doors for Friday’s weigh-in for the Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez fight at the MGM Hotel’s Grand Garden arena.

Stowers started waiting at 2 a.m., 12 1/2 hours before Pacquiao was scheduled to take the stage for the weigh-in for Saturday’s non-title welterweight bout.

“Pacquiao is going to knock him out in the third round. Marquez is too old,” said Stowers, an accountant in Honolulu.

For many of the 5,000 people at Friday’s weigh-in, this is as close they will get to the boxers, as all 16,000 tickets to the fight have been sold.

The two boxers have fought three times, with Pacquiao winning twice and one bout ending in a draw. Marquez’s fans are convinced it is going to be different this time, with their man’s arm being raised in victory.

“Marquez will win in nine rounds,” said Octavio Valdez, 39, of Las Vegas. “Pacquiao will get knocked down in this fight, because Marquez is coming in stronger than before.

“I just hope Marquez keeps his guard up, because if he drops his hands then he will get knocked out.”

Jorge De La Garza, 32, of Monterrey, Mexico, said Marquez is determined to right a wrong.

“Marquez will win because he has unfinished business,” said Garza, who works security for an internet service company. “The last fight was stolen from him.”

American college student Gilbert Estanilla thinks Pacquiao is going for an emphatic knockout win to send as strong a message as he can.

“Nothing is impossible for Pacquiao,” said Estanilla, 21, of Henderson, Nevada. “He is mentally and physically ready. Marquez is scared, he is terrified of Pacquiao.”

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Tags: Boxing , Juan Manuel Marquez , Manny Pacquiao , Pacquiao fans , Pacquiao Marquez , Sports

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