by Ronnie Nathanielsz
“Fighter of the Decade” Manny Pacquiao’s first strength and conditioning coach at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, former heavyweight contender Justin Fortune, is looking forward to reuniting with Pacquiao and Roach and Filipino assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez.
In an overseas telephone conversation with the BoxingScene.com/Manila Standard, Fortune who set up his own Fortune Gym also in Los Angeles after parting ways with Roach some years ago, said he is “coming over to help Manny, help Freddie put everything into harness. My job will be to help Manny beat (Brandon) Rios” in their WBO International welterweight title fight in Macau on November 24.
Fortune said he is schedule to leave Los Angeles on Friday night to arrive in General Santos City a couple of days before Roach who plans to fly out of LA after Miguel Cotto’s fight against Delvin Rodriguez on Saturday.
When asked who reached out to him to rejoin Pacquiao’s training camp after Roach fired Alex Ariza who is now training “Bam Bam” Rios, Fortune said it was “Manny and Michael (Koncz) and they went through Freddie first.”
He said “everything is fine and we want to get back to where we were. Freddie will do the boxing training, I will do the conditioning and Manny will do the fighting.”
Fortune indicated he is looking forward to working alongside Roach and Buboy Fernandez and “we’ll be like we used to be with Manny.”
He played down whatever differences he had in the past with Roach telling the Standard that he had been with Roach for some 20 years and they had gotten over their little difficulties “absolutely” and added he couldn’t allow “something silly” to get between us.
Fortune told us he is looking forward to working again with Pacquiao but emphasized that Pacquiao “needs to get back to where he was” pointing out that Rios “is beatable if Manny is fit.”
The strength and conditioning coach noted that Rios “is a very credible fighter who can punch and take a punch although he is one dimensional.”
Fortune added the fight “is not a walk in the park but we’ll do our best to help Manny win.”