MANILA, December 7, 2004 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - It was just another day for Manny Pacquiao – long, hard and tedious.

Gearing up for his bout with Thailand’s Fahsan 3K Battery on Saturday, Pacquiao held his last sparring session at the Wild Card Gym in Paranaque yesterday then declared his readiness for his first fight in the Philippines in two years.

Pacquiao, who arrived from Davao the other day to cap his month-long training, held a two-hour workout at the well-equipped gym and under the watchful eyes of American trainer Freddie Roach, his local handlers plus a small, animated group of onlookers.

The hard-hitting southpaw and his men arrived at the gym from his home a few blocks away on board a light blue van. He then had a little chat with American promoter Murad Muhammad and a couple of scribes before buckling down to work.

"Let’s get to business," he said in English as he entered a small, air-conditioned room where he changed into his training gear – black shorts and black shoes.

A 10-minute shadow boxing was on top of the schedule, followed by three rounds of sparring with RP featherweight contender Joebar Damosmog, two rounds of punch-mitting with Roach, two rounds on the double-end bag and three more rounds on the speedball.

Pacquiao rained his punches on the red speedball so hard and so fast that it sounded like a hammerjack. Ten more minutes skipping ropes and another 10 shadow boxing plus close to 30 minutes stretching exercises capped the workout.

Pacquiao left the ring after doing a total of 830 sit-ups and crunches from different angles. According to an aide, Pacquiao has logged a total of 76 rounds of sparring in preparation for Saturday’s fight scheduled at The Fort in Taguig.

Fahsan was scheduled to arrive last night from Bangkok.

"Just an ordinary day," said Roach of the workout that could make an ordinary athlete faint. Afterwards, Pacquiao tipped the scales at 129 lbs, wearing his shorts and his shoes, just enough before the official weigh-in on Friday for the 126 lbs limit.

"That’s the last of our sparring and all the heavy work’s been done now. No problem with the weight. As you can see with his body, he’s in great shape," added Roach.

Whatever happens on Saturday, Pacquiao is lined up for a rematch with Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez, the reigning IBF and WBA featherweight champion, on Feb. 26 either in Las Vegas or Nevada. The two fighters battled to a classic draw last May.

Saturday’s fight will be Pacquiao’s first in the Philippines since October of 2002 in Davao where he scored a sensational first-round knockout of Thailand’s Fabrakob Rakkiatgym in defense of his IBF super bantamweight crown.

Muhammad, who’d seen or been with great boxers like Ali, Frazier, Holmes, Floyd Patterson or Roy Jones, was just as impressed with his Pacquiao.

"Just excellent. Unbelievable. I’ve been with great boxers but I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as Manny. But I told him not to play with the fight. Don’t carry the fight because accidents do happen. Like a head-butt or a wrong punch," said Muhammad.

The sweet-talking American promoter was referring to recent reports that Pacquiao is planning to carry the fight to four, five or six rounds before going for the kill. If he could have his way, and not the sponsors‚ he’d like Pacquiao to finish Fahsan in one round.

"Depende kasi talaga sa kalaban," said Pacquiao while resting inside the Wild Card office. "Depende talaga kung saan siya aabot. Pero mabagal siya. Yun lang ang nakita ko sa tape ng isang exhibition fight niya sa Guam."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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