By Eddie G. Alinea
Six rounds of punching the mitts with chief trainer Freddie Roach and a 15-minute roadwork at the scenic Burnham Park opened Manny Pacquiao’s fine-tuning regimen on Wednesday here.
The World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion was still far from being in full competitive shape but he nevertheless showed his old form despite staying away from boxing for five months following his last fight against Juan Manuel Marquez in November last year.
The power in both fists and speed in his footwork were still present that Roach himself could not help express amazement in what he saw for a long time.
“Now I believe in what I’ve been hearing that Manny, indeed, has been working out in the province the past several weeks,” said Roach, who on Tuesday admitted he had no inkling on what the camp would go until such time he meets Pacquiao in person.
“I don’t know how hard the preparations would be because I haven’t seen Manny since I arrive in the country some two weeks ago,” Roach confided to this writer Tuesday, the day Pacquiao and his team was scheduled to show up at the Shape Up Gym inside the Cooyeesan Hotel, the official camp while training at this City of Pines.
“As I have been saying, we’ll have to work… Work and work hard as soon as we open shop. Now I would say that it wouldn’t be as hard as I imagine we would go,” he said.
“The early start (in Manila and later in General Santos City) really makes it easy for us here in Baguio,” the Hall of Fame trainer said.
Another good news is the 52-year-old Roach expects none of the distractions that marked Pacquiao’s preparations before as the Filipino ring icon has undergone a self-imposed change in his lifestyle. Not even the champ’s new bible-preaching advocacy.
“I have no problem with that. At least God is with him now. Well, as long as God doesn’t tell him to stop punching,” Roach, a self-confessed Catholic, said rather jokingly.
Wednesday’s session included several rounds on heavy bag, double end ball and speed ball that was capped with the usual conditioning exercises under the watchful eyes of stamina-builder Alex Ariza.
The frequency in every aspect of the regimen will increase as the days go by so that by the time training shifts to sparring early next week, everything would be in place, according to Roach.
Hard-hitting Russian junior welterweight prospect Ruslan Provodnikov is scheduled to arrive Monday and will be Pacquiao’s sparring mate in the entire duration of the Baguio Camp which will last on the eve of the team’s departure to Los Angeles on May 5.
Original plan was to have Pacquiao to complete 30 rounds with the mitts by the end of the week. But since the former pound-for-pound king’s arrival here was delayed for two days, Roach said they can only complete about 20 to 24 rounds till Friday.
Pacquiao’s party, including assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez, who oversaw his training in General Santos, set foot in this summer capital, near midnight Tuesday although Roach was expecting them to report at Shape Up on Tuesday morning.