LOS ANGELES, CA — Right from the horse’s mouth.
Fourteen days into his April 9 date with American Timothy Bradley in Chapter III of their trilogy, boxing great Manny Pacquiao pronounced Saturday (Sunday in Manila) he’s ready to fight.
“I’m ready, I’m ready to fight even tomorrow,” Pacquiao declared following his grueling nine-round skirmish with sparring mates — Congolese-Canadian Ghislain Maduma and American Lydell Rhodes at the Wild Card Boxing Club Gym in the heart of Hollywood here.
“Our preparation was very, very good and I cannot ask for more,” he said. “Walang naging major injury despite our heavy schedule, especially the past two weeks kaya nagpapasalamat ako kay Lord for sparing us from trouble throughout our eight weeks of preparation. Kung hindi sa Kanya hindi natin aabutin ito.”
“Starting Monday, light na ang ensayo at ipagdasal na rin natin na maging safe pa ang nalalabing mga araw ng ating paghahanda, ” he said even as he begged his countrymen here, back home and in all parts of the world to pray for his victory.
“Lahat naman ng ito ay ginagawa natin para sa ating bayan at sa ating mga kababayan, ” the 37-year-old congressman from Sarangani Province added. “Dalangin ko rin na sana ay walang mangyaring di kanais-nais sa ating bayan at sa mga Pilipino mula ngayon hanggang sa matapos ang laban.”
“What I would just like our countrymen to know is that although we are thousands of miles apart, sila pa rin ang nasa isipan ko at ipinanalangin sa araw-araw,” Pacquiao narrated. “Gaya nang lagi kong inasasbi sa tuwing lalaban ako, ang labang ito ay para sa inyo. Sana ay manalo tayo sa tulong ng Maykapal.”
More than the eight-division champion though, the happiest man, or men, on that day were chief trainer Freddie Roach, conditioning coach Justin Fortune and members of the training team — Buboy Fernandez, Nonoy Neri, Roger “Haplas” Fernandez and Marvin Somodio — who only a day before were gripped with anxiety after Roach cancelled the scheduled workout.
The reason was, last Thursday, after 12 rounds of sparring, which everybody considered as the best since Team Pacquiao arrived in L.A., all members of the staff were one in announcing that their guy was ready to rumble only to learn the following day that the training session will be dispensed with.
“What happened?” Everybody was asking. “Had something bad happened?”
Nothing of that sort happened and as the “Fighter of the Decade” returned to the ring the next day smoking like a bull taking all the punishment Maduma and Rhodes could dish out while returning the compliment stronger, sharper and unrelenting as they came.
“Well, that’s Manny Pacquiao for you,” an excited and grinning ear-to-ear Roach greeted member of media in a mini-press conference that followed the day’s chores.
“Manny’s back to his senses, I’m happy that the camp is ending on a high note,” the Hall of Fame boxing guru declared. ” I told you Thursday, Manny’s ready to fight anytime now.”
Fortune agreed, saying, “you really have to know Manny so as not to entertain fear in your heart. Today, he’s tired but tomorrow, he’s not. Manny’s Manny.”
“Sinasabi ko na naman sa ‘yo, patutumbahin namin ang kalaban. Tiyak yun,” Buboy, Pacquiao’s boyhood pal, for his part, exclaimed.
(Photos by Wendell Rupert Alinea)
By EDDIE G. ALINEA