Pacquiao adds rapper Ross to entourage

Martin Rogers

LAS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao has made a surprising addition to his fight night entourage: Controversial rapper Rick Ross will lead him into the ring ahead of his bout with Shane Mosley on Saturday.

Pacquiao, who will defend his WBO welterweight belt against Mosley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, became friends with Ross after using rap music to motivate himself during training sessions and morning runs.

Following a recent meeting, the pound-for-pound king invited Ross to be part of his pre-fight preparations by joining him in the locker room and providing a high-tempo musical introduction for his ring walk. Pacquiao’s publicist Fred Sternburg confirmed that the rapper will accompany Pacquiao to the ring.

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"Rick Ross – we met in my apartment," Pacquiao told Hard Knock TV. "He is cool and he is friendly."

Ross, who named himself after 1990s drug trafficker Freeway Ricky Ross, has thrown himself into his new role as part of Team Pacquiao, even designing a limited-edition T-shirt commemorating the fight – which will be worn by the champ’s cornermen.

However, his presence sits somewhat at odds with Pacquiao’s clean-cut image. Ross’ songs are filled with coarse lyrics, he has been involved in a bitter public feud with fellow artist 50 Cent, and in 2008 he was associated with an alleged assault on entertainer DJ Vlad.

Pacquiao recently released a song himself, and it was about as far removed from Ross’ style as is possible. The star collaborated with musician Dan Hill on a version of "Sometimes When We Touch."

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Ross was not part of the Pacquiao group for Friday’s weigh-in, and the 31-year-old fighter brought a smaller than usual team to the stage. There were few surprises, with Pacquiao tipping the scales two pounds below the 147-pound limit and Mosley landing right on the money.

There was nothing in the way of animosity between the boxers – not even of the contrived, pre-fight variety – with warm smiles, hugs and handshakes all around.

Trainer Freddie Roach even revealed that he had been forced to spend extra time talking to Pacquiao during training to prevent him from working too hard and dropping too much weight. Even then, Pacquiao ate a full breakfast and lunch on Friday, and snacked throughout the day.

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