By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach is bringing in two unbeaten fighters as sparring partners for eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao, as the Filpino star begins to step-up preparations for his third fight against Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley on April 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Roach is expected to arrive on February 13 in Manila and take a connecting flight to Pacquao’s hometown of General Santos City.
Pacquiao went through a full routine on Wednesday, jogging some 5 kilometers with two tri-athletes, practicing dribbling skills with two basketballs in an exercise aimed at strengthening his shoulder as well as his reflexes and also did some abdominal exercises, according to ABS-CBN reporter Dyan Castillejo.
Manny also boxed in the afternoon anchored on work on the punch-mitts.
Roach has indicated that sparring will begin some two weeks after his arrival since Top Rank is still working on the travel documents of unbeaten 24 year old welterweight Frankie “Pit Bull”Gomez who has a record of 20-0 with 13 knockouts.
Roach has also tapped the services of US Olympian and current North American Boxing Federation super lightweight champion Jose Ramirez who is unbeaten in 16 fights with 12 knockouts.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum whose uncanny ability to spot talent said “Jose Ramirez is on the track now to not only become a world boxing champion but to be a major star in the sport. He is an excellent competitor and he handles himself with dignity inside and outside of the ring.”
The quality of Pacquiao’s sparring partners provides an insight into how seriously he is taking the third fight with Bradley where an impressive performance is likely to have a major effect on his bid for a seat in the Senate in the May elections.
Pacquiao is running on the ticket of Vice President Jojo Binay and made a ringing endorsement of the presidential bid of Binay in what was reportedly the highlight of the proclamation rally of the United Nationalist Coalition in Mandaluyong City in Metro Manila.