by Ronnie Nathanielsz
“Fighter of the Decade” Manny Pacquiao worked behind closed doors as he kicked off the vital stretch of his preparation for a fourth encounter with Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on December 8.
Pacquiao went through the entire routine of shadow boxing, skipping rope, punching the heavy bad, working on the speed-ball and two-ball and doing the punch-mitts with celebrated trainer Freddie Roach.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told BoxingScene.com/Manila Standard “all the reports that I’m getting are very good but I will see for myself tomorrow when I watch him train at the Wild Card Gym.’
Arum was pleased to learn that Pacquiao had been sharply focused in his two weeks of training in his hometown of General Santos where he sparred with welterweight Anthony “Rocky” Marcial who was battered and called it quits after three rounds in their first session and four rounds in the second.
Pacquiao’s speed and punching power appeared to have been carried over to his first day at the Wild Card with adviser Mike Koncz telling us “training went great. He did 12 rounds on the mitts with Freddie.”
Koncz said Roach “is very happy at the condition Manny showed up in and he’ll spar six rounds on Tuesday” with longtime sparring partner Raymund Beltran and the Russian” who is likely to be rugged junior welterweight Ruslan Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KO's) who was Pacquiao's sparring partner during preparation for his fight against Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley.
Roach clearly wants Pacquiao to concentrate on the task at hand which is basically to score a convincing victory over Marquez, preferably by knockout so he could erase the controversies that surrounded their third fight in particular when some fight fans and media thought Marquez deserved the decision.
Although he won’t say it Pacquiao has been peeved by Marquez’ constant harping on their previous fights, claiming he won all three but the judges robbed him of victory.
Roach has made it clear he wants Pacquiao to shut Marquez up by knocking him out while Pacquiao’s mother, Dionisia, wants her son win by a knockout in one or two rounds.
Security was tight at the Wild Card Gym and no media were allowed inside.
Even telephone interviews with Roach on how the training went were not allowed because of the reported numerous requests for interviews which now have to be coursed through publicist Fred Sternburg.