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‘Pacman’ to keep guard up

Congressman and boxer Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines trains during a media workout at Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles

LAS VEGAS – If there’s one thing that Manny Pacquiao has painfully learned all the years he’s been fighting here, it is the bad habit of letting your guard down even when everything seems to be going your way.

Pacquiao, who faces Tim Bradley for the third time this Saturday night at the MGM Grand, looks to his shocking defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez as a turning point.

“Don’t give your opponent a chance because in a split second, you can lose,” said Pacquiao on Tuesday, surrounded by a mix of US, Mexican and Filipino scribes at the Skyloft Lounge of the MGM Grand.

Pacquiao was advancing into Marquez’s range in the final seconds of the sixth round when he got caught with a counter right to the jaw that sent him to dreamland in 2012.

Marquez, his eyes cut and his nose and mouth bloodied, was retreating and a punch away from getting stopped when he landed the right with one second to go left in the round.

That was the most devastating defeat ever suffered by Pacquiao in a 21-year career, more traumatic than the one he sustained in Thailand many years ago in losing the world flyweight belt.

Now that Pacquiao in the twilight of a legendary career, this weekend’s showdown with Bradley could very well be his last as a loss should force no less than trainer Freddie Roach to tell him to quit.

As Pacquiao teeters on the edge of retirement, the eight-division champion is being urged by Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach to cap his fighting days in a blaze of glory.

“I told Manny that if this will be our last fight, let’s go out with a bang,” said Roach.

“But the way things went during training camp, I am so happy,” added Roach, hinting that everything will go in their favor come fight night.