[PHOTO AT LEFT - Manny Pacquiao ANDY ZAPATA JR. BAGUIO CITY, Philippines]

MANILA, OCTOBER 3, 2009 (STAR) By Abac Cordero – The dos and don’ts of this fight, according to the Freddie Roach manual, is out.

During yesterday’s two-hour workout at the Cooyeesan Hotel, the trainer and his fighter, Manny Pacquiao, mapped out their plan on how to dislodge Miguel Cotto as the WBO welterweight champion on Nov. 14.

Roach and Pacquiao pounded the mitts for 14 rounds non-stop, and most of the time as they were up on the ring they discussed the ways to keep the fight in control. It was teacher and pupil at work before a small, hushed crowd.

Roach often whispered things to Pacquiao, sometimes holding on to the boxer’s shoulders just to make sure he drives the point home, and there were times they smiled at each other as if they already know exactly well what to do, how to do it.

“Remember, don’t try to win the exchange,” said Roach, reminding the reigning pound-for-pound champion that Cotto, younger, bigger and stronger, is more heavy-handed, and getting into an exchange may not be to their advantage.

“Hit him then stay away. Hit him then stay away. If you can hit him and dance all night then dance all night,” said Roach, who took a couple of heavy hits to the body, and felt it all despite the two-inch thick body armor that he wore.

There was one particular shot, a hook to the body, that caught Roach real hard, and a couple of times, too, one of his mitts came out flying because of Pacquiao’s right uppercuts.

Pacquiao listened each time Roach said a word.

“Don’t just stand there after the two (of the one-two combination). Move to his side. Stay on the side. And when you throw your jab don’t stay in front of him. Again, if you can dance all night, then dance all night,” the trainer said.

A number of times, Pacquiao threw punches, in combinations, that made his trainer happy.

“That’s the shot. That’s the shot,” he told Pacquiao, who just kept on asking for more each time the bell sounded.

“There was a shot to the kidney and it took the wind out of me I couldn’t breathe for a second,” said the trainer, more impressed with the way Pacquiao handled the mitts than when he did handling his sparring partners the other day.

“He was better than yesterday but that was with the mitts. The job here is to bring what he does to the mitts to fight night,” Roach added.

Pacquiao was pushed around the ring by Shawn Porter, a junior-middleweight and one of two sparring partners here, the other one being Urbano Antillon, in sparring that Roach had to declare that Pacquiao was only “forty percent” ready.

But by the time they move out of Baguio to the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles on Oct. 24 or three weeks before the fight, Pacquiao would be and should be “80 to 90 percent” ready.

From the ring, Pacquiao spent a little more time pounding the speed ball, the double-end bag, working the ropes, shadow boxing, and doing close to a thousand crunches, all part of his daily routine.

On his way out of the gym, a bunch of scribes from Manila stopped and tried to get his thoughts.

“The camp is going on smoothly,” Pacquiao said in Filipino. “Maganda. It’s okay because we still have six weeks to go. And I like it here in Baguio. I think I’ll train here even for my next fight. Gusto ko dito.”

Asked if he was indeed having a hard time against Porter, who caught him with some good punches the other day, Pacquiao just smiled.

“Everything’s okay. It’s okay. I love the challenge.”

No more fun, fans for champ (The Philippine Star) Updated October 03, 2009 12:00 AM

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Freddie Roach has had enough, No more “fun and games” in training.

Alarmed by the distractions hounding Manny Pacquiao as he prepares for a tough fight, the most sought-after trainer in the sport today said it’s time to get rid of everything that has nothing to do with boxing.

“It’s good and all, but we’re training for a fight here,” said Roach following a strenuous two-hour workout at the Shape-Up Gym here.

Pacquiao jogged yesterday morning at the Philippine Military Academy grounds in the outskirts of the city, and spent longer than necessary because more than a hundred cadets joined him in the 30-minute run.

He joined the cadets in their morning exercises, too, and there was picture-taking after the run. Then there was some target-shooting at the PMA firing range. It took Pacquiao more than three hours to get out of the camp.

“That’s one more thing I’m upset about. It’s a nice thing to do but we’re getting ready for a fight. It’s not gonna happen again. Let us do our job, you know. If they want to do something like that on a Sunday, okay. But not during training days,” said Roach.

Roach was not happy at all that Pacquiao, two weeks into training and six more to go, still finds time to play basketball with some friends and Team Pacquiao members at the upper-floor gymnasium of the Cooyeesan Hotel.

During the fight’s press tour almost a month ago, Pacquiao played basketball in San Francisco, and came home with a bum knee. Twice already since they started training here, he had gone to the basketball court for some games.

Roach hasn’t talked to Pacquiao about it, but said from now on he’d do what it takes to keep him focused on the ring.

“I’d take the rim off or pop that basketball I have to,” said Roach who looked serious despite a little smile on his face.

“He can’t play basketball, run and train at the same time. Training for a hard fight is difficult and he might miss some days of running because of basketball,” he added.

Pacquiao trained the other day wearing a pad on his right knee, and Roach is just making sure that nothing gets worse than that. The knee pad was off yesterday when he worked out.

Playing basketball, while training for what should be his “toughest” fight, should be a no-no for Pacquiao because on the court one is so susceptible to injury -- a twisted ankle, a fractured finger or again, a hurting knee.

Roach said the other day he and Pacquiao had a deal that there’d be no more basketball four weeks heading to the fight. Now, with still a full six weeks remaining, the three-time Trainer of the Year wants none of it. – Abac Cordero

A time for heroes THE GAME OF MY LIFE By Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) Updated October 03, 2009 12:00 AM

It is the worst of times, and yet the best of times. It is our most vulnerable, yet shining moment. Time and again, it proves that sports is more than just a game.

Let’s also remember that the one thing we are victims of is what happens to us. But we have full control over our response to it. We have heard all the horror stories, some piercing us deeply because they afflicted us directly through personal tragedy or people we know.

It is a very real experience we cannot deny. Many people we know were hurt. We mourn the loss of Barako Bulls PBA representative Tony Chua.

We’ve seen Ondoy devastate the homes and lives of many in the sports fraternity: Koy Banal, Eddie Laure, Jai Reyes, many other PBA, PBL, UAAP and NCAA players and officials. San Miguel Beer assistant coach Freddie Abuda’s son, France, was missing over the weekend, but was thankfully found even as the Beermen were stranded in Pangasinan.

There are so many sad stories.

But there are also tales of quiet heroism, some luckily caught by the media. Laborer Muellmar Magallanes would never have won an Olympic gold medal, but he has done something not even Michael Phelps has dreamt of. With the help of an older brother, Muellmar dove into the murky, roiling floods brought by Ondoy, and personally save more than 30 people, keeping their families intact until he himself, exhausted and spent from his superhuman effort, was carried away by the merciless waters. How many others have done the same, albeit away from the spotlights?

There are many other stories that we should bear witness to.

Students, private citizens, businessmen came out of their own fear, grief and shock to pull together and help. You see it everywhere, people putting away their uniforms, setting aside their important duties for what really matters, melding into a vast unified team, surging outward to lend a hand. Real life reflecting the games we play. Finding a way when there seems to be none. Letting go of old hang-ups, old ways, to learn new ways to get ahead. Together. No sides, no competition. Everybody wins.

The big guns also have weighed in. The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has organized a benefit game that will hopefully not be pushed aside by the new super typhoon. Our basketball leaders have pledged huge amounts that will hopefully make a big dent in the misery of our countrymen. Players from every sector have agreed to play for the cause. ABS-CBN has even set up collection booths at the UAAP Finals at Araneta Coliseum and the NCAA games at The Arena in San Juan.

Manny Pacquiao has donated P1 million, and hopes to make the perilous trip down to Metro Manila to help in relief efforts. Promoter Bob Arum, who visited the country again to check on his prized fighter, also forked over the same amount. For them, it may be a drop in the bucket, but it’s a well of hope for the many people who are thirsty for relief.

I am also particularly proud of my partners on Hardball, Boyet Sison and Jinno Rufino. Though the program was preempted Monday evening, each of us went out of our way to help, either personally or through our connections. Despite lack of sleep, Boyet volunteered to help in the emergency coverage, and even assisted in repacking relief goods at the ABS-CBN facility on Scout Bayoran. Jinno and his friends found means to reach those most isolated from the rest through their vehicles and other resources. I found myself giving away sacks of old shirts and helping out at relief centers, as well. I relied that, this time, being physically large is an advantage, because my old clothes can fit anybody.

It’s been said that adversity introduces a man to himself. Will you like the person you meet?

* * *

The impact of Letran’s victory over San Sebastian College last week did more than just stain the Stags’ unbeaten record. It also denied them a straight pass into the NCAA finals. As of now, the Stags lead the league with a 15-1 card, followed by San Beda and JRU with 14-1 records. This is the scenario with two games to go for each team and one for Letran before yesterday’s game against San Beda. Since SSC-R still has to face both San Beda and JRU, it would be very possible for either or both the Red Lions or Heavy Bombers to tie San Sebastian at 15-3. On the other hand, assuming San Sebastian stays on top, Letran, their likely Final Four opponent, would have sent a message: you’re not invincible.

Things have just gotten more interesting.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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