By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Eight division world champion, “Fighter of the Decade” and Philippine Senator Manny Pacquiao continued to train relentlessly on Saturday for his WBO welterweight championship fight against current titleholder Jessie Vargas at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on November 5.
Strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune who leaves for Los Angeles on Monday night told BoxingScene.com/Manila Standard he had watched some sparring footage and “Manny was ridiculously fast and even on a bad day, looks good.”
Pacquiao sparred a total of ten rounds with his best efforts against unbeaten Jose Ramirez, who has a record of 18-0 with 13 knockouts and who went toe-to-toe with Pacquiao much of the time although Manny nailed him with a couple of hared shots during the sometimes ferocious exchanges.
Trainer Freddie Roach and strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune played down the sparring performance by claiming that at times Pacquiao “looked flat and tired” because of the demands on his energies by his work in the Senate.
But sparring partner Ramirez said even though Manny appeared at times to be a little tired and off, he was still better than any fighter in the welterweight division and should be able to handle Vargas - who assistant trainer and childhood friend Restituto “Buboy” Fernandez believes will run when he feels the power of Pacquiao.
However, both Roach and Fortune disagreed telling BoxingScene/Manila Standard they were sure Vargas “who is a fighter won’t run and will stand and fight.”
After ten rounds of sparring, four of them against a local fighter who gave Pacquiao hardly a sweat, Manny worked furiously on the punch-mitts with Roach, battered the heavy bag and kept his timing right by working on the speed ball.
The strongest asset of Pacquiao are his legs from which even Floyd Mayweather Jr concedes, his power and quickness emanate.
Roach said he was thankful to Mayweather for his complementary remarks about Manny in a recent Fight Hype interview in which he said the Filipino southpaw was one of the best fighters he ever faced in his 49-0 ring career.