Manny Pacquiao steps up training at Wild Card gym. Abac Cordero HOLLYWOOD]

HOLYWOOD, APRIL 25, 2009 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Manny Pacquiao made up for lost time Wednesday by working doubly hard and having just as much fun at the Wild Card Gym here.

Pacquiao showed up at the gym a little late than usual, which was 1 p.m., but the moment he got up the ring he trained like he’s never trained before.

Pacquiao, who took a much-needed rest and stayed away from the gym Tuesday, sparred for six rounds against Uzbek Alisher Rahimov and local boy Dave Rodela, then worked six more rounds with Freddie Roach’s black mitts.

Pacquiao is down to 146 pounds with nine days before the fight and has logged in a total of 140 rounds of sparring. On Saturday he’ll do five more, and on Monday he’ll do four before heading to Las Vegas by land.

Roach left Wednesday evening for Puerto Rico to be in the corner of Gerry Peñalosa who will challenge Juan Manuel Lopez for the world super-bantamweight crown on Saturday. Roach will be back Sunday.

It’s highly unusual for Pacquiao to spar and hit the mitts that long on the same day. But he did it, and kept asking for more each time his handlers blew the whistle and called “time.”

“It was a good day. He worked when he wanted to and played when he wanted to. He was in a good mood. The day after the rest day he was in great form,” said Roach.

Pacquiao had fun working out. Even in sparring he would often tell his mates to “hit me, hit me” and “punch, baby, punch” or at times allowing himself to get hit in the body and saying, “massage, massage.”

Rodela, a regular during Pacquiao’s training camps, did well in sparring but a couple of times looked on the verge of falling down, taking short, quick combinations of four, five or six punches.

“A lot of punches,” Rodela blurted after his cornermen took off his mouthguard. “He’s like Speedy Gonzales (the bristling cartoon character).”

Later on, after catching his breath, Rodela said, “Manny is too fast I can’t see his punches so I just close my eyes. I do the same thing but he’s just different. He’s blessed.”

The resident of Oxnard, California said Hatton has the good qualities, being “strong, fast and aggressive,” but Pacquiao “is too fast.”

After the sparring session, Pacquiao and Roach went through the mitts, trying on different combinations. There was a live discussion between the two who sometimes whispered to each other like they’re plotting an assassination attempt.

They did six rounds and Pacquiao kept asking for more. Roach, who now wears fighting shoes when working with Pacquiao in the ring, and of course his three-inch thick body armor, obliged.

“You see, just negotiate,” Pacquiao said laughing.

“He always asks for more and my job now is to say no. I give him a little here and there but that’s Manny Pacquiao. We don’t need to do anything else,” he said.

“The game plan is out and he knows how to fight the fight. All I can say in between rounds is ‘good job, have fun and stay loose.’ Weight is not too much of an issue. He can go down to 138. Weight is not a problem. We’re going down easily.”

Pacquiao also worked the double-end bag, speed ball and the ropes, and as he shadow-boxed for a couple more rounds took time to dance in front of the newest member of his training team, ex-heavyweight champ Michael Moorer.

Pacquiao egged him on to do a little dance, but Moorer, who rarely smiles, wasn’t in a playful mood.

Pacman sees bar-room brawl with The Hitman Updated April 25, 2009 12:00 AM

HOLLYWOOD – Manny Pacquiao prefers a head-on collision with Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton.

“Papasok at papasok ‘yan. Mas gusto ko ‘yun (He’ll come in and I prefer that),” said Pacquiao Wednesday as he enjoyed late lunch at the packed Thai restaurant which he normally visits after a hard day’s work at the nearby Wild Card Gym.

Pacquiao was asked what he foresees on May 2 at the MGM Grand when he tries to take away Hatton’s IBO junior-welterweight crown and shoots for his fifth championship in five different weight classes.

The Filipino pound-for-pound champion said he’s ready to get it on with Hatton.

“Mas gusto ko ‘yung pinapasok ako eh. Hirap ako kapag tinatakbuhan ako (I like it more when my opponents walk in. I find it difficult when they run away),” he added in anticipation of an all-out brawl.

“Basta pag-bell, let’s get it on,” he told Pinoy scribes.

Pacquiao feels he’s already in top condition, and that his weight is in check. Currently at 146 pounds, he sees no problem making the weight at 140 on the eve of their May 2 showdown.

“Magiging 147 ako pagkatapos kumain (I’d be 147 after I eat). So, I’ll be 148 for the fight,” he said.

Pacquiao doesn’t mind that Hatton, who’s been undefeated in the 140-pound class, plans to climb the ring at around 154 pounds, and become the biggest fighter Pacquiao would ever face.

“Okay lang, hindi naman sa laki eh. Sa tama ng suntok yan. (It’s okay. It’s not the size but the way you land your punch),” he explained.

Pacquiao said Hatton is good, strong and fast, being the champion.

And the British superstar, who has lost only once in 47 fights, is ready to prove that.

“I think where I’m at now with my training camp is the ideal place that I would like to be 10 days out from the fight. I’ve got one last sparring session to do tomorrow afternoon and then it will be just a case of basically tapering down my training and easing back,” he told Wednesday’s tele-conference.

“As you can appreciate this is – come fight night it would have been 12 weeks of training time. We’ve been working so hard for 11 of them I think you need that work to get it all back if you like and so and then – so just occasionally only one more hard sparring session on Wednesday and sharpening up my tools and I couldn’t get them any sharper than where they are at the minute,” he said.

Hatton thinks he knows Pacquiao too well he’s got the Filipino icon all wrapped up.

“I do really believe he’s very effective at what he does, but I think he fights the same way all the time. He throws the same punches all the time. He throws a right jab, a one-two. He shuffles in and out with his feet, which obviously if you don’t get to – if you don’t get adjusted to the style of his feet obviously it could cause you problems.

“But I think you get adjusted to this style – I don’t see a versatile fight in Manny Pacquiao. So I think I will have more game plans in my favor,” added the reigning 140-pound champion.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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