GENERAL SANTOS CITY—Filipino boxing hero Manny Pacquiao is moving on from what appeared to be a career-ending knockout defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez nearly a year ago and wants to recapture his place in the elite list of sweet science’s biggest stars.
Manny Pacquiao works the mitts with good friend and assistant boxing trainer Buboy Fernandez at the Wild Card gym in General Santos City. Paul Morales
Pacquiao undergoes a tough, grueling three-hour workout everyday at his newly-built Wild Card Gym located at the heart of this bursting city where his team pitched his training camp for his fight with Brandon Rios next month.
“It’s the same feeling as before. You saw my practice today. I feel very inspired. I am excited to be back in the ring,” said Pacquiao, who will turn 35 this coming December. His workout included a 25-round training session with 13 rounds of doing the mitts with friend and assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez.
The mitts portion of the regimen was originally scheduled for nine rounds but Pacquiao asked for more.
“Well, you know Manny. He’s like that when he’s enjoying his sparring. He extends the sessions and no one can stop him,” said Fernandez who finished the session sweating profusely looking more tired than Pacquiao.
Two rounds punching the double end ball, another three rounds on the speed ball plus five more rounds on the rope and on the mat rounded out the day’s work with other coaching staff members Nonoy Neri and Buboy’s brother Roger “Haplas.”
The training session was also highlighted by nine rounds of early morning roadwork at the Acharon Sports Complex oval.
“Yeah, he has moved on and soon will be on the way to becoming one of the best again,” Pacquiao’s business manager Michael Koncz declared on the day Pacquiao actually opened what is scheduled a 10-week build up program leading to his comeback fight with American Rios for the international welterweight championship on November 23 (November 24 in Manila) in the Chinese gambling paradise Macau.
Pacquiao, here flanked by good friend Fernandez and his pet dog Pacman, starts his daily workouts with a run at the Acharon Sports Complex oval in General Santos City. Paul Morales
“Recovering is an understatement. There’s nothing to recover from in the first place,” Koncz said. “To say that Manny had recovered from the stigma of his sixth round knockout to Marquez is wrong. To me, Manny fought his best fight in that fourth meeting with Marquez.”
“It was just that we committed a grave mistake and paid dearly for it,” he said. “But the fear that Manny suffered psychological and mental effect from the fall, is unfounded. He underwent an MRI in Las Vegas right after the fight and was pronounced out of danger by doctors.”
“We also had him examined by the best specialists here in the country and all, likewise, declared him safe,” Koncz said. “We’ve continuously been monitoring his condition and I can safely say that he’s okay and ready to fight again.”
Fernandez shared Koncz view saying, “That (knockout) is nothing. Past is past and Manny has been leading a normal life a few weeks after that defeat. Of course at the start he felt really bad. Defeat is painful. But that is expected in a game of boxing. You either win or you lose. It’s just too bad that we lost.”
Pacquiao has been displaying tremendous speed and punching power with Nonoy Neri often needing to replace trainer Fernandez in doing the mitts at the Pacman Wild Card Gym.
Expressing their approval at what they saw, a handful of spectators that had the privilege of having been admitted in a closed door training session gave Pacquiao a warm ovation. This was after another three hour workout of 12 rounds at the mitts, a pair each at the speed ball and double end ball and three rounds of shadow boxing.
Fernandez, who could weigh no less than 250 pounds lasted only seven rounds against the pummeling of the eight-division champion leaving the similarly heavy Neri to finish the session.
Neri himself, Buboy, his brother Roger “Haplas” and even Pacquiao’s business manager Michael Koncz joined the small crowd in expressing elation over what they saw.
The hype for the Pacquiao-Rios bout in November to be held in Macau is going on in earnest especially in Asia. Here a double-deck tramline vehicle in Hong Kong is emblazoned with a poster of the coming November bout to be held in Macau. Apple Greatson Francisco
“Manny’s punches are too heavy,” Neri said after his short four-round stint opposite the Pacman. “We really need to take turns doing the mitts otherwise we’d all have broken hands before this 10 weeks of camp.”
“This is absolutely the first time that I saw Buboy (Fernandez) quit,” Neri swore. “ I think Manny’s punching power has not abandoned him despite almost a year in hibernation.”
“The camp is doing fine,” Koncz, for his part, said. “Everything is going on schedule. I think we would easily get what we aim for in the next nine weeks here in Gen San.”
“I’m very happy with what Manny is showing us. In fact, we all should be very happy,” Koncz said adding that with the way the camp is going, the former no. 1 pound-for-pound best would be ready to spar not later than next week.
“Yeah, Freddie (Pacquiao’s chief trainer Roach) would be coming first week of next month bringing with him at least one sparring partner from Korea and one from Ghana,” he said
Pacquiao attributed his excellent shape to his almost three weeks of sporadic training session here and in Manila.
“Our early start has helped,” he said. It’s a difficult proposition to practice in Manila and then move here. But even when not in the ring or in the oval I have been getting plenty of practice through our almost nightly basketball games.”
Pacquiao, Fernandez, Haplas and Nonoy all said the long 10-week training camp that will include one week in Macau, is the ring icon’s longest since moving to flyweight from junior-fly in the beginning of his 18-year fighting career.