by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES — What does a former Philippine Senator, a music star and giddy fans across Southern California have in common? They were all part of the large group of fans and media that watched Manny Pacquiao’s workout at the Wildcard Boxing Club last March 5.
Former Philippine Senator and Philippine Basketball Association star Robert Jaworski, Black Eyed Pea’s Allen Pineda also known as Apl.de.Ap and Filipinos across Southern California witnessed a more focused and determined Pacquiao during open media day workouts.
From the look of the three-hour session, Filipino boxing sensation Pacquiao appears primed and ready for his upcoming re-match against World Boxing Council Champion Juan Manuel Marquez at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on March 15.
Trainer Freddie Roach described the training camp as “the best” in a long time, a far cry from Pacquiao’s preparations in his second bout against Marco Antonio Barrera.
Most open media day work-outs are light but Pacquiao never lets up on his training regimen. The sound of Pacquiao’s punches hit Roach’s mitts like a jackhammer; his grunts could be heard across the room. Media cohorts slowly dissipated because they could not wait for him to finish the long workout.
Pacquiao’s workout is a reflection of how much he is taking this match against Marquez seriously. The last time the two boxers met in 2004, the match ended in a controversial draw.
“This is the hardest training I’ve ever had,” said Pacquiao. “I’ve gone 36 rounds of work everyday despite the fight being only 12 rounds. It’s good for me.”
For the past eight-weeks, Pacquiao has also re-dedicated himself to the art of boxing; something he admits he lost after two disappointing albeit wins.
“Last year, I haven’t been 100 percent focused on my boxing career,” he added. “I’ve been disappointed in my last two fights against [Jorge] Solis and [Marco Antonio] Barrera. I lost my drive and hunger. I wanted to get it back for my fight against Marquez.”
Pacquiao said that when he came back home to the Philippines after the Barrera II fight, he realized that 2008 was the year he would “put all my focus on my boxing career.”
“I’m still Manny Pacquiao,” he said. “I’m still hungry to train and get the championship.”
Roach added, “Before we started training [for Marquez], Manny told me no more distractions,” recalls Roach. “This is the year he concentrates on boxing. No more gambling, no basketball, no distractions. This is a real big year for him.”
Roach said that he’s worried about Pacquiao overtraining for this fight. The legendary boxing trainer admits he has to settle Pacquiao at certain points of the training camp.
He said that just last week Pacquiao tied the record of 20-consecutive-rounds-of-mitt-work without a break. That’s one-solid-hour of punching and moving.
“I was dead tired after,” said Roach.
Roach did not want to delve into strategy against Marquez. He did say that Pacquiao’s jab will be a big issue and how he utilizes his right-hook would be the difference in this fight.
“He’s always had power in both hands. It was just a matter of confidence,” said Roach. “He’s also a more complete fighter than the last time they met. Pacquiao is more mature and experienced now.”
Roach added that Pacquiao has grown considerably from the first time the two began training with each other.
“He’s better than ever,” he said.
Pacquiao on the other hand is not worried about overtraining. He wakes up early in the morning to run a few miles before training with Roach. He then closes out his workouts performing 1,000 sit-ups.
“Right now, I’m very happy,” he said. “I’ve been training really hard and prepared for this fight.”
The big reason Pacquiao trains hard is Marquez. He knows the Mexican champion is going to do his best.
“Marquez is a good fighter,” said Pacquiao. “I know he’s going to train hard. I’m going to train hard so may the best man win.”
Pacquiao, never too far away from what’s happening in his native country, mentioned that he wanted to do his best in this fight to help alleviate the unrest among Filipinos caused by the recent political controversy in the Philippines.
“It’s very important for me to inspire the Filipino people because of all the rumors that are going on right now in the Philippines,” he said.
FilAm Al Montesa, 33, drove from Riverside to watch his first ever Pacquiao work-out in Los Angeles.
“I’m a big fan,” he said. “Ever since the last Marquez fight I’ve watched all of his other fights.”
“This is my first time to be so close to the Philippine (version) of Michael Jordan. He’s the Philippine Jordan.”
Montesa predicts that Pac-quiao will win but shied away from foretelling a knockout victory.
“Marquez is tough,” said Montesa. “He got up three times the last time. I hope Manny wins. I want Manny to win but I think he should expect a long fight.”
Meanwhile, former Senator Jaworski echoed a different sentiment.
“I hope everyone enjoys the fight,” said Jaworksi. “I don’t want to see anyone badly hurt. I want it to be a worthwhile fight and for both fighters to do their best and have fun.”