SENATOR MANNY PACQUIAO at the Philippine Senate floor with Senate President Aquilino Koko Pimentel lII and Top Rank’s Bob Arum. Pacquiao has started training for a duel in Brisbane, Australia against Jeff Horn on July 2.
By EDDIE G. ALINEA
MAKATI CITY (PhilAmPress) – Three weeks from now, expect to see local boxing hero Manny Pacquiao run every morning in the vicinity of his official residence in the posh Forbes Park in Makati City where he is scheduled to start his dual role as a fighter and a lawmaker anew.
The first week of May is the time by which the 38-year-old will commence what will be another tough and gruelling preparation for his coming fight with unheralded Australian Jeff Horn, the anointed challenger for his Word Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight crown based on the 10-week period Pacquiao normally conduct his build up program.
Pacquiao and his former schoolteacher title-pretender face off in a 12-round showdown on July 2 at the 55,000-seat Suncorp Arena in Brisbane, Australia where the Filipino eight-division belt-owner is staking his 147-pound belt.
Like when he fought and recaptured his title at the expense of Mexican-American Jessie Vargas November last year, Pacquiao has to follow strictly the training regimen he himself and his training staff would have already prepared.
The training program includes getting up early at 4 a.m. for the roadwork segment of the program, breakfast after taking a short nap then driving to his Senate office in Pasay City to attend the Senate sessions and hearings of committees.
Pacquiao’s job as senator does not end there. He still has to attend sessions which starts mid-afternoon and normally ends at 8 to 9 p.m. He then would hurry to nearby gym for at least a two-hour ring portion of his routine.
Count the bible study sessions and rallies he, too, has to attend, though not as often, and the father of five with wife, former Sarangani Vice Gov. Jinkee, would have to retire midnight or beyond.
“Mahirap, no? But I managed to do that in my last fight against (Jessie) Vargas, kakayanin uli natin yan ngayon,” Pacquiao assured in an interview with this writer one afternoon when he was gearing to prepare for his aborted fight with Briton and former sparring partner Amir Khan.
“Well, talagang ganyan ang buhay ng pagiging public servant. “Pinili kong magsilbi sa tao sa pamamagitan ng pagsisilbi sa gobyerno at sa pagiging boksingero, so walang dahilan para mag-reklamo, “ he reasoned out. “Besides I enjoy playing the role of a dual citizen. Basta makapagpaligaya ako ng tao okay lang, ” he added.
Pacquiao disclosed that on session days on Mondays up to Wednesdays, training will be in Manila. He then fly home to General Santos City where spends Thursdays to Sundays there and resume preparation at his own Pacman Gym.
“Gusto ko ring makita ang pamilya ko kahit weekend lang. Pagdating ng laban, di na naman kami madgkikita-kita nang matagal,” he quipped referring to wife Jinkee, and children Jimuel, Michael, Princess, Queenie and Israel.
When Hall of Fame chief trainer Freddie Roach and strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune will be arriving is not yet known. Assistant trainers Buboy Nonoy Neri and Roger “Haplas” Fernandez will overwsee the program until Roach and Fortune fly in.
While Pacquiao has yet to start training extensively, the camp of his Australian challenger Jeff Horn looks leaving no stone unturned in its preparation for the former schoolteacher’s titular duel with the Filipino reigning 147-pound titlist set July 2 in Brisbane.
Reports from down under had it that Horn’s trainer Glenn Rushton is seeking Olympic gold medallist and two-time world champion Vasyl Lomachenko to be his ward’s main sparring partner to approximate the sizzling speed and ferocious firepower the Filipino icon is expected to dish out.
Not to be outdone, Horn’s promoters Duco Events are also talking to world-ranked welterweight Errol Spence to help Horn in the biggest fight of his career and in Australia’s boxing history.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, whose Government is helping finance Pacquiao’s $10 million purse, has declared that “up to 55,000 boxing fans from across Australia and the world are expected to fill Suncorp Stadium to see the local teacher taking on one of the biggest names in boxing history, on his home turf”.
“The match is a highlight on the state’s major events calendar,” Palaszczuk said as quoted by Courier Mail’s Grantlee Kieza.
Like Pacquiao, Lomachenko and Spence are left-handers presenting a whole different attack to right-handed (orthodox) boxers such as Horn,” Rushton said.
“I would dearly love to get Lomachenko to work with Jeff because like Pacquiao he is so fast and razor sharp,” said Rushton, who has a stable of stars training at the home gym of his Stretton mansion.
“Pacquiao boxes with an intensity unlike most fighters but Lomachenko is a ring genius. I want guys who are lighter than Jeff (67kg) as sparring partners so they can simulate the same sort of speed and movement that has made Pacquiao such a star.
“Lomachenko would be much more suitable to prepare for Pacquiao than Errol Spence who is more of a power-puncher,” Horn’s trainer assessed.
Horn, for his part, disclosed that he will resume training hard next week, adding that he had actually started preparation even before the first aborted showdown with the eight-division belt-owner, which was originally set April 23, was announced
“I’ll now be training 4-5 hours a day plus doing video work, watching Pacquiao’s recent fights., “ he said.
“It will be the hardest training of my life because of the calibre of Manny and the importance of this fight but I believe in my trainer and he believes in me and I’m going into the ring at Suncorp to take Pacquiao’s world title.” (Eddie G Alinea/PhilAmPress)