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aACAyManny Pacquiao will be immortal'.

Dubai: Filipina former WBO and IBA super bantamweight boxing world champion, Ana Julaton, has credited compatriot eight-division world champion, Manny Pacquiao, as her biggest source of inspiration ahead of her second flyweight mixed martial arts (MMA) bout in Dubai later this month.

Julaton and Pacquiao trained together at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles, USA, before the 34-year-old California-born pugilist embarked on an MMA career in the One Fighting Championship, where she'll face Malaysia's Ann Osman at Dubai World Trade Centre on August 29.

Julaton says the influence of Pacquiao - who defends his WBO welterweight belt against the USA's Chris Algieri in Macau on November 22, and has recently bought a stake in One FC - will be with her in the cage, as she bids to become a two-sport champion.

"One of the most impactful moments I ever had with him was after he fought [Juan Manuel] Marquez for the fourth time, when he got knocked out [in 2012]," Julaton told Gulf News. "I saw him that night and everyone was sad, I was sad, I was crying, I was in tears, and when I saw Manny he just looked at me and said: aACAyLet it go.'

"I was complaining, trying to accuse Marquez for taking extra substances and stuff because I'd never seen Marquez knock Pacquiao in all the fights they had. I said to Manny: aACAyThe only way they can beat you is if they cheat.' And Manny told me not to say that, to stay professional, to go out there and be positive. And I was like: aACAyWow'.

"He just took the biggest embarrassment in his career with grace. One of the biggest things I learnt from Manny is just to have really good character and be positive.

"I think he's going to be immortal in Filipino culture and history. To be able to experience a piece of that and have actual stories to take away is something I can live with for the rest of my life."

Julaton said she will take the Pacquaio approach to her next fight in Dubai, where she is the favourite having won her One FC debut against Egypt's Ana Saeed Saber by technical knockout in Manila in May.

Her opponent, Osman, is a late replacement for injured Irina Mazepa of Russia, and Osman steps up a weight division to face Julaton after losing her One FC debut at straw-weight against Singapore's Sherilyn Lim by split decision in Singapore last October.

Despite favourable circumstances, with a large Filipino expatriate following expected to turn out, Julaton says she won't take anything for granted.

"In a fight you really just have to focus on what happens inside the cage," she said. "You can have everyone's support but you still have to close the deal.

"You have to prepare and stay humble, that's the natural attitude of a fighter; you've got have hunger, you can't feel content, you have to move on from your last fight and think fresh.

"Pacquiao always gives 100 per cent and is an amazing, world-class fighter but when he wins big fights, he is so humble. I'd like to copy that and not get ahead of myself. If there is an opportunity to represent my heritage, I want to do it in the best light possible."

While Pacquiao started boxing to escape poverty, Julaton said her drive to succeed was motivated by different reasons.

"It gets really personal, I'm a woman in a male-dominated sport, I've seen and experienced so many things that all I want is respect. Sometimes that's all you have.

"I would fight in amateur championships and they would always say my name incorrectly. I just happened to be the only Filipina boxing in the USA, and they wouldn't even take time to say my name right.

"I live in the USA where everyone strives for equal opportunities, but there is segregation in certain areas. I learnt from other strong female personalities that you can't ever let that be an excuse for why you're not successful.

"There are certain people that once I become successful, I would just love to look them in the face and smile, almost like I'm saying: aACAyI told you so'."

She went on: "Females have to compete with a lot of A-list males to got slots in certain events. I'm lucky to have a team that sees the injustice. It gets really political, that's why I have a chip on my shoulder.

"Progress is being made, things that I wouldn't have seen years ago have started. But a lot of what I do is about trying to defer social norms. I just want to do what I do without being judged."

Acceptance for Julaton won't be complete until she replicates her boxing success with an MMA world title.

"I think it would be pretty awesome to end my career in that fashion," she said. "But again, I'm not too focused on that. Training is hard and I get humbled everyday by my sparring partners, so it's something that if it ends up happening, so be it, if not I live to fight and I love stepping in the ring, and the cage."

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Aug 23, 2014
Words:879
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