MANILA, OCTOBER 27, 2008 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - It’s not only Manny Pacquiao’s sparring partners who are taking some punishment from the hard-hitting Filipino as he steps up in training for his Dec. 6 showdown with Oscar dela Hoya.

Even Freddie Roach, the chief trainer, is taking it as well.

Roach reportedly suffered a minor strain in his right hand after working the mitts with Pacquiao for 12 straight rounds at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles last Friday (Saturday in Manila).

According to a Team Pacquiao member, Roach felt the strain as the session was about to end, and he had to ask Pacquiao’s conditioning coach, Alex Ariza, to look at his hands.

After getting a good rubdown, Roach went on with his job, and when Pacquiao was done, the 48-year-old trainer attended to Britain’s Amir Khan who’s also working out at Wild Card.

Roach puts his hands down only on Sundays – a rest day for everyone.

Pacquiao hits the mitts so hard and so long that when Roach takes them off you can see the latter’s hands shaking.

But he never complains. “We did it non-stop with the mitts yesterday. Even when I’m tired I give it all just like coach Freddie,” Pacquiao wrote in his column that regularly comes out in the Filipino tabloid Abante.

“I can also see it in coach Freddie as we sweat it out and I can see him breathing heavily. But we just go on. I know how strong my punches are and I recognize the hard work he does for me,” said Pacquiao.

“I can see him feeling his hands after we’re done with the mitts. But he’s a warrior, too, and he never backs off. We always push ourselves. And sometimes if I hit him in the body, I know it hurts.

“And then I’d ask him ‘Are you tired?’ If he says ‘no’ then we skip the 30-second breaks and move on to the next round,” said Pacquiao, who’s like a son to his humble American trainer.

They’ve been doing this for almost seven years now, and so far they’ve been very successful beating some of the great Mexican fighters, and winning world titles in different weight classes.

In a recent interview with Boxing Herald, Roach talked about the power behind Pacquiao’s punches, especially now that the latter is moving up two weight classes to fight Dela Hoya at 147 lbs.

“His punches are unbelievable,” said Roach who now wears a body protector when he works the mitts with Pacquiao.

“I wore the body suit for the first time with Manny because I don’t want him holding back his body punches. He knocked the wind out of me three times today. We will be testing Oscar’s body out, trust me,” he said.

To prepare for Dela Hoya, taller at 5-foot-10 and longer with his 73-inch reach, Pacquiao has been shaking boxers standing close to six feet and weighing 160 pounds in sparring.

So far, Pacquiao has sent one of them packing, and another one staggering against the ropes.

Alcano yields 9-ball title Monday, October 27, 2008

Ronnie Alcano swept his way to the finals but failed to erupt in the game that mattered most, as he bowed to fellow former world champion Mika Immonen, 13-7, in the titular match of the 33rd Annual US Open 9-Ball Championship yesterday at the Chesapeake Convention Center in Chesapeake, Virginia.

It was a sorry loss for the 35-year-old stalwart who won all his first eight matches, including an 11-6 trouncing of Immonen in the Final Four.

The pool star from Finland bounced back from that setback by holding off another Filipino Warren Kiamco, 11-9, in the losers’ bracket, before pulling the rug from under Alcano to become the 23rd player to hoist the coveted crown among 238 cue artists from around the world.

Immonen also pocketed the $40,000 top purse, while Alcano settled for the second prize worth $20,000 for the second straight year. He was also the runner-up of this tournament last year, losing to American Shane Van Boening in the finals.

“Sayang,” uttered Alcano, a member of the Billiards Managers and Players Association of the Philippines and Senate President Manny Villar’s Team Villards. “My game was going great but I didn’t have good breaks and my opponent had a good look a the ball.”

In the finals, Immonen won the lag and quickly raced to a 6-0 lead. After Alcano pocketed his first rack, the Finn, runner-up to Corey Deuel in 2001, uncorked a 4-1 run for a commanding 10-2 lead and never looked back, repulsing each of Alcano’s attempt to rally.

The loss means Alcano is title-less since he ruled the 2007 World 8-Ball Championship in March last year. He also failed in his bid to become the third Filipino to win the US Open after fellow former world titlist Efren “Bata” Reyes (1994) and Alex Pagulayan (2005).

“Better luck next time,” added Alcano, whose next tournament will be the First Senate President Manny Villar Cup Bacolod leg setNov. 13-16 in Bacolod.

He will have a chance to get back at Immonen as they will be on opposite sides in the Q.C. Invasion:Quezon City-Philippines vs the World Grand Billiards Showdown, a tournament pitting eight of the top Filipino pool masters against a selection of international stars slated on Dec. 2-4 at the Trinoma Mall in Quezon City.

Kiamco, who won 11 consecutive matches before succumbing to Immonen, took the third-place honor and the $10,000 cash that goes with it.

Sent into the one-loss side after the third round, Kiamco managed to stay alive and closed in on the crown by posting a win after another, including against reigning world 9-ball champion Darryl Peach, Lee Van Corteza, former US Open titlist Nick Varner, reigning World Cup of Pool winner Rodney Morris and former world champion Johnny Archer.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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