Baguio City - Hall of Fame boxing trainer Freddie Roach, who is now in Baguio City to handle the training of Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao and British fighter Amir Khan, said his new ward, undefeated featherweight Lorenzo "Thunderbolt" Villanueva is in top shape and ready for the world championship fight against Indonesia's Daud Yordan on May 5 in Singapore.
Roach said that while he did not "touch" Villanueva during the last 20 days of his training for the International Boxing Organization (IBO) title fight, he has closely supervised and observed the 26-year-old orphan's preparation for his first stab at the world boxing title.
"I decided not to touch Lorenzo anymore because if I did, it could have an adverse effect on the training program that he and (Bruce) Lerio (the assistant trainer) have already started and are about to finish," Roach said.
"But they are doing it very well and I observed the sparring sessions especially with (Ernie) Sanchez (Pacquiao's protege from Gen. Santos City) and he has been doing very well," Roach said.
Yesterday, in a sparring session at the Coyeesan Gym in Baguio City where Pacquiao and Khan also train, Villanueva knocked down former amateur standout and top bantamweight Robert Udtuhan prompting the latter's handler to stop the sparring after only two rounds.
"He really has the power," said Roach who added that he would prefer to bring Villanueva to the US after his May 5 world championship fight in Singapore.
While the 25-year-old Yordan, who is going up against Villanueva for the vacant IBO title at the Marina Bay Sands Resort in Singapore, is considered an excellent boxer having had long experience in amateur boxing including a stint in the Olympics, he is expected to find the awkward Filipino fighter a tough opponent because of the latter's punching power.
Villanueva, a southpaw, has a record of 24 wins with 23 knockouts. His last three fights ended by knockout in the first round with the fastest knockout coming at one minute 17 seconds against another Indonesian Eddy Comaro.
Unorthodox and awkward, he was supposed to train at Roach's Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California before the Yordan fight but his application for a US visa was not acted upon prompting his handlers to send him to Baguio City in mid-March.
Villanueva and his team which includes his manager, former North Cotabato Gov. Manny Pinol, assistant trainers Lerio and Rex Penalosa will leave for Singapore on May 1.
A huge group of supporters from his home province of North Cotabato is expected to fly to Singapore to witness Villanueva's attempt to become the first world boxing champion from the province.