PACQUIAO  TRAINS  BEHIND  CLOSE  DOOR  IN  L.A.  GYM

HOLLYWOOD, JANUARY 25, 2008
(STAR) By Lito A. Tacujan  – Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao sustained an early pace in training behind closed door at the Wild Card Gym yesterday in the second week of his eight-week buildup for his much-awaited rematch with WBC super featherweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez.

Pacquiao, who arrived here last week, went through the chores of a light workout, including 10 rounds of punch mitts routine with trainer Freddie Roach who ordered spectators and hangers-on out of the gym for the afternoon session.

The 29-year old Pacquiao – with 45-3-2 (34 KOs) will target a third world title against the scrappy Mexican champion – 48-3-2 (35 KOs) – in the rematch of their May 2004 first encounter that ended in a controversial draw.

The highly anticipated showdown, with all the trimmings of a Fight of the Year candidate to boot, is slated March 15 at the Mandalay Bay and Casino in Las Vegas as Pacquiao seeks to add to his list of famous victims the 34-year old Marquez, the Last Mexican standing.

“He’s a lot more focused. He knows how tough the fight is. This means more to him, a win will open doors for him so he’s very focused, very aware of how important this fight is,” said Roach.

Amid wintry cold that enveloped the city with temperature hovering in the 50s, the Filipino superstar has been doing 45-minute roadwork, pounding alternately a rugged uphill course in Griffith Park, and a flat route in Pan Pacific Park.

“He wrapped himself up warm and dry,” said Los Angeles-based confidant Winchell Campos of Pacquiao’s early morning grind accompanied by Filipino champs Gerry Peñalosa and Bernabe Concepcion and Diosdado Gabi.

Roach ordered a closed door session and freed the venue of fans and gym regulars. “It’s just too crowded”…and watched his prized fighter go through the routine of skip-ropes, abdominal exercise, speedball and double-ended bag, punch mitts and try out some strategies they would use in the match with the Mexican champ.

“Manny’s pulling out all stops to ensure victory in the rematch and this may account for the veil of secrecy imposed by Roach,” said Filipino boxing guru Hermie Rivera.

Four sparmates with counter-punching styles resembling Marquez’ have been lined up when Pacquiao begins serious sparring next week. They are Danny Cervantes, Roger Gonzales, David Rodela and a black American welterweight surnamed Gallon, Jr who could be tested against the Filipino’s power shots.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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