Barely a week of working under chief trainer Freddie Roach and still a month left before battling Australian challenger Jeff Horn, World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao looks to have done more than 50 per cent of his target to successfully keep the 147-pound title within this shore.
After dancing for eight rounds Tuesday against three sparring partners, including newly-arrived Mexican super-lightweight Adrian Young, Roach proclaimed his prized student of 16 years has erased all doubts expressed by detractors on the eight-division belt-owner’s capability to reach fighting form
Pacquiao crosses path with Horn July 2 at Brisbane’s 55,000-seat Suncorp Asena in Queensland with his crown at stake.
“I’m not saying Manny ‘s already sharp as we want him to on the day of the fight, but what I can say is that we still have one month to go to prepare,” Roach told this writer after another routine three-hour session at the Elorde sweat shop inside the Mall of Asia commercial complex.
“We’’ll be in that very ideal situation from today until we close the camp before the fight,” the 57-year-old boxing guru, who arrived in Manila last May 22 with conditioning coach Justin Fortune to supervise the training chores with Filipino assistants Buboy Fernandez, Nonoy Neri and Roer “Haplas” Fernandez, asserted.
The eight-round sparring – two with local Orient Pacific campaigner Leopoldo Doronio, three with Fil-Indon Sonny Kartiandagho and another three with Young — who flew in Monday with father-coach Gregorio.
That raised Pacquiao’s frequency to 31 rounds in five sparring days, which according to the Hall of Fame trainer was too fast a pace to what the training team’s target 90 to 100 rounds of sparring.
“I will not say exactly where we are now, but I believe we are, this early, between 65 per cent to 75 per cent or better of what we want to comes the day we climb the ring,” Roach assessed.
“Yes, we’re going too fast than the plan, especially when we saw his sluggish performance in training upon our arrival a week ago, ” Roach said. “Besides, we knew he’s been very busy with his job as a senator.”
“But he keeps on asking for more on whatever we’ve been doing,” Roach added. “Well. That’s Manny for you. He knows what he can do and what he can’t. He can be sloppy at times, but he can be at his best the next moment.”
“I have handled so many fighters in my many years as a trainer, most of them became world champions and frankly speaking, Manny has the best work ethics,” he assured.
Meanwhile, there’s no definite decision yet on whether to move the camp Pacquiao’s own Pacman Gym in General Santos City next week when Congress will go in recess.
“Everything is still hanging in the air. Manny, I understand, is till weighing things up on how things are in Mindanao because the declaration of Martial Law,” Roach said. “Whatever, our preparation will continue.” (Photos by Wendell Rupert Alinea)