By Chris Robinson
When I spoke with Top Rank CEO Bob Arum last Wednesday, he advised me that the day prior he had witnessed the first sparring session from his star fighter Manny Pacquiao in his latest camp as he trains inside of the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles. Pacquiao faces his fierce rival Juan Manuel Marquez for a fourth time on Dec. 8 inside of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
On Wednesday afternoon, I again caught up with Arum, this time inside of the nearby Top Rank Gym, at the media day for this weekend’s HBO’s double header featuring a junior middleweight clash between contenders Vanes Martirosyan and Erislandy Lara as well as a featherweight duel that will see unbeaten Mikey Garcia tangle with former champion Jonathan Victor Barros.
Knowing that Arum had also seen Pacquiao in sparring on Thursday of last week, I asked him for an update on his overall visit to the Wild Card this particular trip.
Bob Arum hopes that Manny Pacquiao gets his 'mojo' back for fourth Juan Manuel Marquez fight.
“I saw him train twice,” Arum stated. “The first was the Tuesday after he arrived. He arrived on a Saturday night and he sparred on Tuesday. I was concerned because he looked very, very sluggish. But then, on Thursday, I came back and it was one of the best [of] Manny Pacquiao I’ve ever seen where he was sparring with some really good sparring partners.”
Arum was asked what exactly he is looking for in his fighter when he visits Pacquiao in training each time out.
“I’m looking mentally whether he’s in it or if he’s worried about what bible-study portion he’s going to do that night,” Arum stated. “Is he focused and is this the number one item on his agenda? I certainly, on that Thursday, found that to be the case.”
Arum added that Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach is also pleased thus far with his fighter’s efforts.
“Freddie Roach was extremely pleased on Thursday,” Arum noted. “He hasn’t seen Manny this good in a number of fights. But it’s a long way from here until December 8, so he’s got to keep at that peak.”
I asked the Hall of Fame promoter what particular camps of Pacquiao’s have stood out in the past and while it was easy for him to recollect, you can sense how badly he would love for the Manny of old to emerge.
“The [Miguel] Cotto camp he was very sharp," said Arum. "The [Oscar] De La Hoya camp he was sharp. He’s been distracted the last three camps and hopefully he’s going to get his mojo back this camp.”