By EDDIE G. ALINEA
Special to Philippines Today
PARANAQUE CITY (PhilAmPress) – “Very good!”
This was how chief trainer Freddie Roach greeted fighting Senator Manny Pacquiao following his pupil’s eight-round skirmish with a pair of sparring partners Saturday, two days after the eight-division champion left him, conditioning coach Justin Fortune and members of the training team worrying on the state of his readiness four weeks into his comeback fight next month.
Pacquiao will attempt to recapture the World Boxing Organization welterweight crown from current ruler Jessie Vargas on November 5 at the Thomas & Mach Center in Las Vegas. He and his team are set to fly to Los Angeles on October 22 to continue the training before the title fight.
“Everything went well today. T’was a good day and I think everybody can again sleep well,” Roach told everyone who cared to listen as Pacquiao proceeded to punish the heavy bag, double end ball and speed ball on the way to completing the day’s work.
Last Thursday, the soon-to-be 38-year-old Pacman looked sluggish, flat and tired as he merely went over his chores leading Roach, Fortune and assistant trainers Buboy Fernandez, Nonoy Neri, Roger “Haplas” Fernandez and those helping carry out the build up program doubt the gains achieved in the month-long camp before Roach flew in last Tuesday.
The Hall of Fame trainer, in an effort to check the perceived slack even cancelled the mitts portion as part of that day’s routine
“So, we’re back on track , meaning everything that we prepared in the training program will proceed as scheduled,” Roach said with a wide grin.
Roach, again, dispensed with working the mitts but only because the four division lineal titlist had an important commitment later in the day in relation to his being a lawmaker.
“Besides, I don’t think Manny still needs working on it. As I said, everything went well, Manny’s back to where he was before the day he suffered fatigue ,” he explained.
The seven-time trainer of the year awardee had actually increased the load of sparring from six rounds in the first two days since he and sparring mate Jose Ramirez arrived to eight rounds Saturday — five with the Mexican-American at the opposing side and three with local lightweight Leopoldo Doronio.
Pacquiao gave both the still unbeaten Ramirez and Doronio neat lessons in defense as he weaved in and out covering the entire ring and throwing left and right combinations that foiled each and every offensive thrusts the duo could dish out.
“Manny’s very good today, especially his timing. He’s even better than the first day of sparring,” Ramirez, an up-and-coming junior welterweight and owner of a clean 17-0 win-loss record with 12 KOs, could only say after the punishment he received from Pacquiao.
Like Roach, Buboy was all praises for his boss, a bosom pal from their childhood days at Barangay Labangal in General Santos City.
“Matagal ko nang sinasabi sa ‘yo, kung mayroong tao dito na kilalang-kilala si Manny ako yun. Mula bata magkasama na kami kaya alam kong sandali ay makaka-recover yan as anumang nararamdaman nya sa katawan nya,” he said.
If Pacquiao impressed his handlers with his performance atop the ring it was the way he pummelled the heavy bag and the speed ball that delighted the some 50 spectators that included Alaska basketball team assistant coach Louie Alas, who watched the training session at the Elorde Gym in the second floor of he Five E-Com building inside the Mall of Asia compound.
“Ang lakas pala at ang bilis sumuntok ni champ,” an amazed Alas, who passed by the gym after watching the the UAAP games at the MOA Arena said.
“Ang ganda niyang panoorin sumuntok, and ganda ring pakinggan ang tunog ng glab kapag sumusuntok sa bag. Parang music pakinggan,” noted Kristine Tan, a boxing enthusiast who works in a designing firm inside the vast commercial complex. (Eddie G. Alinea/PhilAmPress}