By Nick Giongco
Manny Pacquiao defended the decision of ace trainer Freddie Roach in pulling the plug on Gerry Penalosa’s bid to dethrone the Puerto Rican knockout sensation Juan Manuel Lopez, who became the first man to stop the two-division Filipino champion with a ninth-round TKO Saturday night in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. “Lopez is just too big and too strong for Gerry,” Pacquiao told visiting reporters from Manila Bulletin, PhilStar, Inquirer and People’s Journal in his apartment unit at The Palazzo in Los Angeles. Pacquiao said Penalosa has nothing to be ashamed of since he put up a gallant stand and refused to be floored by the heavily-favored 25-year-old WBO super-bantamweight king. “We all saw that he did his best,” said Pacquiao, who watched the action live on high-definition TV. “Freddie was right in not allowing Gerry to come out for the tenth round. Do we have to wait for something bad to happen before we say that’s enough?” With the loss, Pacquiao believes Penalosa will announce his retirement. It was Gerry himself who told me that this (Lopez) fight will be his last and it would be best for him if he retires.” Penalosa turned pro in 1989 after a stellar amateur career. He had won the WBC super-fly in Feb. 1997 and later the WBO bantam title that he recently relinquished so he could meet Lopez.