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‘Stay away from Marquez’

One of the surviving members of the original Team Pacquiao warns the fighting senator to resist the temptation of facing boxing’s rising stars and instead focus on doing a rematch with Floyd Mayweather.

“Manny’s not getting any younger and if he ends up fighting guys like Terence Crawford and it will very risky if he faces the others who are on their way up,” said Lito Mondejar, who managed and promoted Pacquiao alongside the late Rod Nazario and Moy Lainez for about a decade from 1995 to 2005.

Mondejar was at ringside recently in Las Vegas when Pacquiao easily beat Jessie Vargas before more than 16,000 fans at the Thomas and Mack Center.

Mondejar, whose boxing links stretch back to the 1960s, believe that a second meeting with Mayweather is the most logical thing to do.

“In the rematch, Manny has a very high chance of beating him and I don’t think Mayweather has the ability and the power to knock him out,” said Mondejar in an interview with the Bulletin on the Manila-bound plane from Los Angeles yesterday.

At worst, a Pacquiao loss would only come on points, Mondejar feels, stressing that if there is also one fighter not to fight again, it is no other than Mexican master counterpuncher Juan Manuel Marquez, who is pushing 44.

“No, not him,” said Mondejar, also in attendance when Pacquiao squared off with Marquez the first time in 2004.

“He will always have that style that will make it difficult for Manny to win and he has proven to be a tough fighter to beat,” said Mondejar, noting that Marquez seems has miraculous powers.

“Even if you knock him down, he keeps on getting up,” said Mondejar.

The first time they slugged it out, Marquez was floored thrice in the first round but wound up battling Pacquiao to a controversial draw.

In the rematch in 2008, Pacquiao had him down anew but Marquez rose and lost on a equally-debatable split verdict.

In the fourth fight in 2012, Pacquiao suffered a scary knockdown in the second round but decked Marquez in the fifth but ran into counter right that knocked him out cold in the sixth stanza.

“Marquez always finds a way to counter and Manny’s style is tailor-made for him,” added Mondejar, who was a pioneer of TV boxing, globe-trotting liaison officer for the late World Boxing Council leaders Ramon Montano and Rudy Salud before becoming a training assistant during Pacquiao’s early days in the US.

Pacquiao is eyeing to fight again in April or May next year and Mayweather is the topmost choice.

Hopes that a rematch can be done surfaced during Pacquiao’s beating of Vargas when Mayweather showed up at ringside.