Filipino fighting senator Many Pacquiao starts going into the motion of winding up his preparation today, still three weeks into his comeback fight with World Boxing Organization welterweight titleholder Jessie Vargas.
This, Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach announced last Saturday, the day his prized pupil capped a week had the heaviest load in his training program consisting of 12 rounds of sparring with a pair of training mates and another 12 rounds of doing the mitts with his decorated chief corner man.
The coming six days ends the eight division champ’s six-week camp in Manila after which Team Pacquiao moves to Los Angeles in California for another week of applying the finishing touches at Roach’s Wild Card Gym before motoring to Las Vegas in Nevada where the ring icon will try to recapture the 147-pound crown in a 12-round showdown on November 5 (November 6 in Manila).
“Everything has been set in place so I believe we have to slow down a little bit next week to give Manny the needed break,” Roach told this writer after the dozen round with the mitts. “Manny went 12 rounds of sparring today (Saturday), six against Joe (Mexican-American Jose Ramirez) and four against a local boy and he ended up still wanting for more.”
The seven-time ‘Trainer of the Year’ was referring to former World Boxing Council and Eurasian Youth welterweight belt-owner Sonny Kabandagho, a substitute sparring partner, who filled in for regular mate Leopoldo Doronio, who fell sick.
“Not that Manny’s already reached his peak, but we’re heading to that. He’ll be there, Roach assured. “We still have three sparring sessions next week and several rounds more with the mitts which we believe are enough before going through the fine-tuning phase of the camp two weeks from now in L.A.”
“Starting Monday, We’ll be looking for things that we missed and filling in the void,” Roach explained. “We’ll try to improve a little bit here and a little bit there to be sure that we cover all bases down the stretch of our preparation.”
Strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune echoed Roach’s evaluation, saying that everything, including several minor glitches, indeed, has been addressed rather quickly.
“There was this mild cold (not flu as several media outfits reported) that struck Manny,” Justin recalled. “Then the old leg cramps that suddenly recurred plus his responsibilities as senator, which at a certain point somewhat intervened in his training regimen.”
“But thanks to Manny’s superb physical condition, we survived all that. Truth is, under normal circumstances, this final three weeks would’ve been the toughest and the most crucial, but as we’ve been saying this camp has been going on smoothly, we don’t need to go into that,” Fortune said, adding that the situation has given him the chance to leave for the U.S as early as today.
“Yeah, I’m going ahead of the rest of the team today, knowing everything that has to be done in making Manny in tip-top shape comes fight night has been done,” Fortune attested.
Members of the training team — assistant trainers Buboy Fernandez, Nonoy Neri and Roger “Haplas” Fernandez — agreed to Roach and Fortune’s projections.
“Ako, sa tingin ko nasa peak na si Manny two weeks ago pa. Kaya nga na-survive niya lahat ng distraksyon na dumating habang nag-e-ensayo. Pero agree din ako that there’s still room for improvement para maka-siguro,” Buboy, Pacquio’s bosom friend since childhood, said.
Even basketball star Jason Castro couldn’t hide his admiration seeing Pacquiao workout that day.
“Sobra ang lakas at bilis ni Manny. Sobra ang energy niya,” the Talk “N Text sentinel, considered s Asia’s finest point-guard today, who confessed seeing Pacquio in action for the first time, observed. “Palagay ko kahit sinong makalaban ni Manny, hindi mananalo.” Photo by Wendell Rupert Alinea. (philboxing)
By Eddie Alinea