By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Fighter of the Decade Manny Pacquiao, determined to regain his stature as an elite fighter, began intense training at his General Santos Gym on Thursday for his showdown against the young and exciting Brandon “Bam Bam” Bios in Macau on Nov. 24.
Pacquiao didn’t wait for the arrival of celebrated trainer Freddie Roach or strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune, with whom the Filipino ring icon has renewed ties after Roach fired Alex Ariza, to begin sparring.
Roach is expected to arrive in BoxingScene.com/Manila on Tuesday after he works the corner of Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cottto, who faces Delvin Rodriguez of the Dominican Republic in Orlando, Florida on Saturday, while Fortune is expected two days earlier.
ABS-CBN reporter Dyan Castilljo told the Manila Standard that Pacquiao sparred two rounds, with undefeated Ghana welterweight champion Fredrick Lawson, the former Olympian and two more rounds with Philippine middleweight champion Marlon Alta., in his General Santos Gym Thursday.
It was the first time that Pacquiao has started sparring this early in his preparation for a fight and provided proof of his determination to prove he is still a force to reckon with in the welterweight division, despite back-to-back losses to Timothy Bradley last June and Juan Manuel Marquez, in whose hands he suffered a crushing sixth-round knockout.
Pacquiao went jogging at 5:30 a.m., before showing up early in the gym for his workout.
Castillejo said Pacquiao told her he wants to have different combinations, be unpredictable and keep Rios guessing when they clash at the Cotai Arena in Macau in a WBO International welterweight title fight.