By Eddie G. Alinea
Out to give boxing fans and his countrymen the victory they want in his mind, eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao is embarking on what could be his toughest preparation for his fourth fight with Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez starting Monday (Tuesday in Manila) at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles.
Pacquiao and his team, including assistant trainers Buboy Fernandez and Roger Hernandez, business manager Michael Koncz and chief security Calos Homo, flew to LA Saturday night via Philippine Air Lines flight PR 102.
Monday afternoon is expected as the start of his roadwork followed by a light workout at the Vine Street sweat shop in the heart of Hollywood to gauge the gains of the first leg of his recent preparations in General Santos City.
Sparring starts promptly on Tuesday (Wednesday Manila) as agreed upon by the fighter and chief trainer Freddie Roach in their telephone conversation a week ago, with Pacquiao assessing with his guru the progress of his three-week build up program.
Roach has lined up a bevy of sparring mates for the purpose of toughening up his pupil’s ring savvy — welterweight prospect Frank Gomez and old hands Rey Beltran and Ruslan Provodnikov who, the trainer said, have all been eager since three weeks ago to begin the regimen prepared by Roach himself.
Both the Pacman and his Hall of Fame trainer vowed to win convincingly, including by knockout this time following the 2-1 win-draw result of the tree previous encounters with Marquez.
To accomplish that, Team Pacquiao has instituted several changes in training regimen, first by doing away with pitching camp in Baguio City, a tradition practiced in his last four fights, and instead held it in GenSan in far away Mindanao.
“Our purpose in this fight is to win with no doubts left after the fight,” we will do that,” Pacquiao told this writer before enplaning. “We succeeded in holding camp in GenSan without any distraction and I believe we can do that also in LA.”
“Boxing fans, our kababayans included, must understand our goal. Kaya sana they understand na gagawin namin itong ilang restrictions na ito para na rin mabigyan ko sila ng magandang laban at magandang resulta,” Pacquiao said.
“Everybody knows naman that every time I fight, I do it for the fans. In my last few fights, I failed to make the fans happy. They, in fact, doubted my victories although I believe I beat Marquez handily, not only twice but all of those fights,” he said.
“Gusto kasi ng fans mapatulog ko lahat ng kalaban ko. Kung hindi man dapat bugbog sarado,” he said. “I understand them. Gagawin natin ‘yan at magagawa lamang ‘yan kapag busog sa ensayo. Naka-focus ako sa preparasyon simula pa lang.”
“My only appeal to our kababayan ay ipinalangin nila ako na huwag magkaroon ng grabeng injury sa training at lalo na sa laban. Sana ipagdasal din nila na manalo tayong muli alang-alang sa bayan, sa lahing Pilipino,” he said.
Several more alteration in preparations await the former welterweight kingpin in LA, where the team will stay for five weeks before driving to Las Vegas for the final week prior to the all-important fight that is hoped to erase all doubts that marked their previous meetings.
For one, Roach has ordered the closure of the Wild Card Gym to everyone, including relatives, close friends, members of his new congregation and plain kibitzers, to prevent distractions in Pacquiao’s training.
Pacquiao approves of the decision to close the gym during the duration of his five-week LA camp.