The training camp of pound-for-pound boxing hero Manny Pacquiao opens on Thursday (Friday, Manila Time) at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles and according to conditioning expert Alex Ariza that’s when Pacquiao sets aside the fun and games and begins to train relentlessly.
Ariza told us that Pacquiao was in a jovial mood when they exchanged text messages while Pacquiao was returning to Los Angeles from a highly successful media event at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
Ariza said he texted Pacquiao asking him when he wants to start running and “Manny responded, in March,” which gave Ariza the impression that the super star of boxing was relaxed before he starts his training grind for the showdown with tough Joshua Clottey at the Dallas Cowboys stadium on March 13.
Pacquiao, as always, has kept physically fit despite a hectic schedule of shooting political advertisements, playing pool and handling commercial endorsements and business deals, by playing basketball on a regular basis although trainer Freddie Roach essentially frowns on this.
The New York press conference with Clottey, Roach and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum also had a bevy of attractive Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders in attendance, clearly underscoring the determination of Dallas Cowboys stadium owner Jerry Jones to make “The Event” a resounding success.
While Pacquiao’s focus is on the Clottey fight, the prospect of a mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr later this year, possibly in September or November, still lingers in the background although the initial effort to arrange a fight that the fans have been longing for, collapsed on a cut-off date for random drug testing.
Although Pacquiao told the media he was focused on his training and the Clottey fight and asked them to “forget about Mayweather,” the undefeated former pound-for-pound champion, Pacquiao went on to claim that Mayweather was “making alibis to cancel the fight and doesn’t want to fight because he’s scared to lose.”
Underscoring his amiable nature which Clottey reciprocated, Pacquiao referred to the bigger former world champion as “a nice guy” and noted that he’s got size and “is tough and can take a punch. He can stand and fight toe-to-toe and I don’t want to underestimate him.”
While Pacquiao is set to begin training on Friday, Clottey has been training for the past two weeks and like most Pacquiao opponents has gotten a head-start on the champion whose WBO welterweight title will be on the line.
Meantime Ariza informed us that three Filipino fighters who will be seeing action on the Top Rank “Pinoy Power III” card at the Las Vegas Hilton on February 13 are training at the Wild Card gym. The fighters are veteran, former two-division world champion Gerry Penalosa who battles another former two division world champion Eric Morel in a WBO bantamweight title eliminator, world-rated Bernabe Concepcion who faces tough Mario Santiago.
Also working out at Wild Card under Pacquiao’s Filipino trainer Restituto “Buboy” Fernandez is promising Philippine bantamweight champion Eden Sonsona who is being handled by Pacquiao and his adviser Michael Koncz.
Koncz said he has plans of putting Sonsona on a Top Rank fight card in Mexico which will be co-promoted by Fernando Beltran before hopefully getting him a world title shot should he win impressively. Although Bob Arum told us he has one slot vacant for a Filipino fighter on the Pacquiao-Clottey card, there’s no word on whether Sonsona would be the one to fill up the slot although Koncz indicated it is highly unlikely.