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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Roach tells Manny: Get serious now

BAGUIO CITY – While storm signal warnings were raised in different parts of Luzon after a super typhoon made landfall, Freddie Roach had an alert of his own for Manny Pacquiao here.

“No more fun and games,” a stern-faced Roach told reporters at the end of training yesterday at the Shape Up gym.

The Filipino ring icon showed up far sharper than he did the day before for another workout that featured a snappy shot to his trainer’s protected kidney.

Roach still expressed disappointment, though, at how the camp was running going into the final six weeks of preparation for the match against Miguel Cotto.

“I’m a little disappointed at the way camp has been running,” said Roach, citing evening basketball games and early-morning runs with military cadets that are not part of Pacquiao’s training regimen.

“Running with the cadets was good and all, but we’re preparing for a fight here,” said the two-time Trainer of the Year winner. “He can’t play basketball, run and train at the same time.”

Pacquiao faces Cotto on November 14 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where the Filipino superstar will go after the Puerto Rican’s WBO welterweight belt, in a bid to become the first boxer to win a seventh world title in as many weight classes.

Pacquiao was a whole lot snappier than he was the day before, when sparring mate Shawn Porter literally had his way with the pound-for-pound king.

“He was better than yesterday but that was with the mitts,” said Roach. “The job is still to bring what he does during mitts to fight night.”

Pacquiao admitted he felt better, despite the early-morning run with cadets at the Philippine Military Academy.

“My stamina has improved and I think my preparations are getting better,” said the reigning light welterweight champion after a lung-busting workout.

Pacquiao admitted he was sluggish the day before although he said: “It’s better that way, there’s a challenge. One thing good when I train is that I easily recover my old form.”

Roach said he was prepared to start running a tighter camp, adding that he was willing to go to the extreme to make sure Pacquiao trains the way he normally does at the Wild Card gym in Hollywood: No distractions.

“He could [play basketball] on Sundays, but not on training days,” Roach said. “Training for the fight is hard work and he’s going to miss more days of running if he continues playing basketball. If I have to take out the rim or pop the basketballs, I’ll do it.”

Roach, though, had little problems with Pacquiao as the two discussed and played out strategy.

Every now and then, Roach would holler words of encouragement during the 14-round mitts exercise.

“Don’t try to win the exchange, don’t just stay there after [a one-two combination], stay at the side, move to the side,” Roach yelled every now and then. “When you throw your jab, don’t stay in front of [Cotto].”

When Pacquiao got something right, Roach would say: “Very good, Manny” or “beautiful shot,” particularly after a snappy hook that tagged Roach’s kidney.

“He knocked the wind out of me for a while,” Roach said.

Pacquiao’s training will end October 24 and Roach said he hoped to bring the boxer to within “80 to 90” percent of the form he has to be in on fight night.

Yesterday’s training – which started late because Team Pacquiao was huddled in a meeting earlier in the day – ended just as storm signal No. 1 was raised over this pine-dotted city.

Meanwhile, conditioning coach Alex Ariza said Pacquiao was still at 153 pounds and he hoped to have the boxer at 150 before Team Pacquiao departs to continue the second phase of their preparations at the Wild Card gym.

“I’m more worried about him going under 150 because I’ve been two or three pounds off with him in his last two fights,” said Ariza, who wants to make sure that Pacquiao carries his strength up to the welterweight ranks, where he will face the bigger and heavier Cotto.

“We’re focused on building functional muscles and make sure he doesn’t go flat while bulking up,” said Ariza.

Pacquiao came in at 142 for the fight against Oscar De La Hoya, which was at a catch weight of 145 lb. The Filipino weighed 138 for the Ricky Hatton bout, where he knocked the Briton in two rounds to win the light welter crown.

Source: inquirer.net

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