With still a month and eight days ahead of his July 20 WBA welterweight title showdown with Keith Thurman, handlers of Manny Pacquiao expressed satisfaction on the way the regular 147-pound belt owner has been responding to his build up program.
Chief trainer Buboy Fernandez on Tuesday even suggested that the training team can whip the 40-year-old eight-division champion ready for battle within the next three to four weeks.
“Everything is there already,” Fernandez told The Manila Times following what looked like Pacquiao’s routine six-round sparring with two sparmates on Tuesday at the Elorde Boxing Gym inside the Mall of Asia compound in Pasay City.
“The power is there, hand speed, footwork. Nandoon na lahat ng sangkap na nagbigay kay Manny ng 12 titulo sa walong dibisyon,” Buboy attested.
The Filipino fighting senator is facing the undefeated WBA super welterweight titlist Thurman on July 20 (July 21 Manila Time) at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
“Not that we’re threatening the enemy o nagyayabang tayo but seeing the way he moved during the sparring, he looked as if he hadn’t been away from the ring for four or five months since our last fight,” he added in reference to Pacquiao’s near shutout demolition of Andre Broner last January.
“I like what I saw today,” strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune, for his part, said. “Manny, not only has regained his punching power, his quickness. He, too, is again turning to be a thinking fighter just when he had been against (Lucas) Matthysse and Broner.
Fortune, who’s leaving ahead of the team on Thursday, attributed Pacquiao’s re-transformation to the Filipino’s work ethics and his sparring with big and wide Australian super-welterweight titleholder Tim Tszyu, who has been his principal dancing partner for just a week and one day.
Despite some distractions the past month brought about by his duties as a lawmaker, Pacquiao has been turning no stone unturned in his run up to the fight. While the senate is currently in recess, he’s been playing a major role in the race for the Upper Chamber’s leadership.
On Tuesday, French lightweight Jaber Zayani joined the sparring team aimed at providing a challenge to Pacquiao’s quickness.
After a two-round skirmish, Zayani, who is said to belong to a stable of fighters under assistant trainer Nonoy Neri, attested to Pacquiao’s strength and speed.
“Very fast, very strong. I can’t see where his punches were coming,” Zayani told this writer, adding that was the first time he sparred with the boxer-turned lawmaker.
As in the past training sessions, Pacquiao, likewise, visited the heavy bag, the double end and speed balls for three rounds each.
“Ang tunay na lakas ni Manny, makikita mo kung paano niya parusahan ang punching bag (You can feel Manny’s real strength when he punishes the punching bag),” Roger “Haplas” Fernandez, another assistant trainer and younger brother of Buboy said.
“Malakas as in malakas. Kung tao yung tinatamaan maaawa ka. Kapag isa man lang noon ang tatama kay Thurman, tiklop agad ‘yun (Strong as in strong. I pity the bag. If Manny can hit Thurman with just one of those, he’ll, be gone for good),” Haplas said.
Pacquiao and the rest of the team depart on Saturday for Los Angeles where he will resume training at the training consultant Freddie Roach-owned Wild Card Gym.
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