By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Strength and conditioning coach Alex couldn’t hide his elation over “Fighter of the Decade”MannyPacquiao’s performance after two weeks of training at the Wild Card Gym of Freddie Roach in preparation for his fourth showdown with Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on December 8.
Ariza told the BoxingScene.com/Manila Standard that on Saturday, his sixth day of sparring, Pacquiao “was amazing.”
Ariza told us Pacquiao sparred eight rounds, three with the Russian sparring partner whom he had earlier described as “a beast” and five with longtime sparring partner Raymund Beltran.
Asked to assess Pacquiao’s performance after two weeks Ariza said “on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give him a 10 but hate doing that because I don’t want to set myself up since I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next two weeks.”
Ariza emphasized that “right now I see a Manny Pacquiao that says he wants to be the old Manny Pacquiao, we've seen in the old Manny the resiliency, got somebody tries to hurt people when he hits them.
He said “this is a different Manny for sure” compared to the eight division champion who appeared to have lost his desire to fight and looked sluggish and not focused in his past three fights.
Ariza noted that there are no distractions this time around and Pacquiao lets his legs rest when he needs to, and he’s looking better.
Ariza gave Filipino trainer “Buboy” Fernandez “credit for doing the punch-mitts when Freddie is not there. He’s pushing himself, he’s making Manny work on his speed and I’m seeing a whole different Pacquiao. Its like the old times when we were gutting it out.”