[PHOTO AT LEFT - Manny Pacquiao starts workout at the Wild Card Gym in Parañaque. ABAC CORDERO MANILA, Philippines]

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 19, 2009 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Manny Pacquiao marked his first day at the gym yesterday as he broke sweat at the Wild Card Gym in Parañaque a couple of days before he officially begins his eight-week training for his Nov. 14 fight with Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao, who arrived from the US the other day, jogged for almost an hour yesterday morning inside Brentville in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, and a little past noon arrived at the gym on board his black Hummer, joined by his adviser Mike Koncz.

People manning the gym owned by the boxer’s former business manager, Rod Nazario, had no inkling of Pacquiao’s visit, and when he wanted to work the mitts, resident trainer Ericsson Aliso had to literally step up.

Aliso, the gym’s resident trainer, was only in slippers as he worked the mitts with Pacquiao, and seemed to be so intimidated by the power and speed of the reigning pound-for-pound champion who hardly showed any rust.

Pacquiao did three rounds with the mitts, throwing bombs that almost threw Aliso out of the gym.

“His right jab felt more like a straight. He’s so strong. His punches are so powerful,” said Aliso, who received a lot of tips from Pacquiao on how to handle the mitts, and squeeze the best from the boxers under his watch.

When he got off the ring, Pacquiao worked on the speed ball and double-end bag and capped his 90-minute workout with stretching and abdominal exercises as a horde of onlookers watched from outside through a glass door.

“Ang init (It’s so hot),” said Pacquiao, just a day after arriving from a whirlwind press tour that took him and Cotto to five key cities (New York, Puerto Rico, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego) the past week.

Pacquiao also complained of some pain on his right knee, which he may have banged against someone whom he played basketball with in San Francisco four days ago.

“Pero mawawala din ito (But it will go away),” he said of the pain.

Pacquiao is scheduled to leave for Baguio tomorrow, hopefully along with his chief trainer Freddie Roach and conditioning coach Alex Ariza who are expected to arrive on that day from Los Angeles, along with a couple of sparring partners.

Buboy Fernandez, the assistant trainer, is already in Baguio, clearing the way for Pacquiao’s arrival. The training quarters have been set up at the Cooyesan Hotel along Naguilian Road. Training starts Monday.

Pacquiao will train in a gym right inside the hotel, and will do his road work in a golf course nearby. Koncz said he had to talk to the owner or operator of the golf course to seek permission for Pacquiao’s daily run.

Notes: Manny Pacquiao got hold of a copy of The STAR inside the Wild Card office as he enjoyed late lunch with old friends like Moy Lainez and Gerry Garcia of In This Corner, and took notice of the banner story. “Kaya ganito ang bansa natin eh (That’s why our country is like this),” he said. “Ang mga opisyal natin walang ginawa kung hindi mag-away (Our officials do nothing but fight). Imbes na tayong mga tao ang mag-sumbong sa kanila ng ating mga problema, sila ang sumbong ng sumbong sa mga tao ng problema nila (Instead of us citizens airing our problems to them, it’s them airing their problems to us),” said Pacquiao. From the gym, Pacquiao went straight to a hospital in Las Piñas to visit his former business manager, Rod Nazario, who was admitted days after celebrating his birthday last week. “Kailangang bumisita (I need to visit him),” he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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