[PHOTO AT LEFT - Manny Pacquiao joins PMA officers and cadets in an early morning workout at Fort Del Pilar in Baguio City in file photo. ANDY ZAPATA JR. MANILA, Philippines]

MANILA, OCTOBER 7, 2009 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Manny Pacquiao sparred six rounds yesterday and again took some hard shots as he tried to squeeze the best from his sparring partners, Shawn Porter and Urbano Antillon, at the Shape Up Gym in Baguio City.

“He took some real hard shots but overall it was a good workout,” said Pacquiao’s chief trainer, Freddie Roach, over the phone on his way back to the Manor Hotel where he’s staying for the duration of the training.

“It was pretty good,” said the American trainer, adding that the number of rounds in sparring should move up by Saturday. He said they plan to do another six rounds on Thursday while they await a new sparring partner.

Former WBC lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo, who figured in two brutal bouts with the late Diego Corrales in 2005 (the first one, won by Corrales, being chosen Fight of the Year), is scheduled to arrive Thursday.

“If he does, then he spars with Manny on Saturday,” said Roach of the 36-year-old Castillo, who lost two close decisions to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2002. Many thought that Castillo, a veteran of 70 fights, won the first one.

After four days of sparring, Pacquiao has logged a total of 18 rounds, the most difficult of which are those with Porter, a junior-middleweight who looks like he’s out to knock Pacquiao out.

Roach has dangled $1,000 to anyone among the sparring partners who could send Pacquiao to the canvas.

The 21-year-old Porter, with more than 200 fights as an amateur and unbeaten in 10 fights as a pro, has forced Pacquiao to keep his hands up in training, having hurt the reigning pound-for-pound champion a couple of times since last week.

Still, the 2007 National Golden Gloves champion is in awe, adding that Pacquiao, with both his power and speed, should have the upperhand when he faces Miguel Cotto for the WBO welterweight crown on Nov. 14 in Las Vegas.

“I think Manny’s speed, quickness and power and all that would take care of the whole match for him. He’s quick. He’s very quick,” said Porter, who also excelled as a college football player.

“One of the best workouts I’ve ever had. I know he’s the best of the best, and he’ll shock the world again I think,” added Porter.

Roach said Pacquiao will close out his training in Baguio on Oct. 24 and in the evening of the same day, a Saturday, they travel to Los Angeles, rest the following day and resume training at the Wild Card Gym on Monday.

They will spend two more weeks in LA as they wrap up the sparring and begin to taper off, and should be in Las Vegas on the Monday of fight week.

Notes: The latest Nike commercial featuring Pinoy icon Manny Pacquiao, along with some of the great athletes in the world today, is out. The commercial, shot in the United States a couple of months ago, features Pacquiao along with NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, tennis champions Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova, soccer star Christiano Ronaldo and 110-m hurdles world record holder Xiang Liu. In the 60-second commercial, each athlete is shown in training and in actual competition, with Pacquiao pounding the roads of Los Angeles, hitting the mitts at the gym and knocking out an opponent on the ring. It’s not the first time Pacquiao has starred in a Nike commercial with the world’s best, and certainly it won’t be the last.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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