How Manny Pacquiao has changed his approach

Boxing


LOS ANGELES — Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. met again Tuesday, though briefly, at Staples Center. Pacquiao was in attendance to take part in the Clippers’ Filipino Heritage Night festivities and Mayweather was courtside to watch the Clippers face the Hornets.

Pacquiao was invited on court to throw t-shirts into the crowd. After throwing one near Mayweather’s section, he shook his old rival’s hand.

A similar scene played out nearly four years ago when Mayweather and Pacquiao met up at a Heat-Bucks game in Miami. That face-to-face meeting kicked off discussions that eventually led to their record-setting meeting in May 2015.

The two boxers only exchanged a quick handshake this time and Pacquiao insists he isn’t looking beyond his January 19 title defense against Adrien Broner.

“I’m not thinking about the next fight,” said Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 knockouts) earlier Tuesday as he wrapped his hands at the Wild Card Gym. “My plan this time is one at a time. I don’t want to talk about the next fight until we finish this coming fight.”

This coming fight is against Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao’s last fight in July ended in a knockout win over Lucas Matthysse, his first time to stop an opponent since 2009 — a stretch of 13 fights without scoring a stoppage victory.

Pacquiao knocked Matthysse down three times and said he hopes to knock Broner out as well. Broner is 11 years younger than Pacquaio, who turned 40 on Dec. 17.

If there are signs Pacquiao is slowing down with age, longtime trainer Freddie Roach doesn’t see it.

“He still has great endurance and his work rate is very high. He’s still hard to slow down, sometimes we tell him to get some rest and we have to fight every bit of the way to make that happen,” Roach said.

Roach returned to Pacquiao’s camp officially as a consultant after Pacquiao went with Buboy Fernandez as head trainer for the Matthysse fight.

Fighters can get old overnight, or so goes the conventional belief in boxing, but Roach says there are signs that can manifest in the gym. He says he hasn’t yet seen it, and feels Pacquiao is punching harder than ever.

“When he hits me on the chest on the mitts, it hurts,” said Roach. “I think I need a new chest protector, a thicker one.”

Instead of downplaying his age, Pacquiao has celebrated it by holding a massive birthday party on December 17 in General Santos City that was attended by President Rodrigo Duterte, local athletes, celebrities, and political allies.

Pacquiao concedes that rest is more important than it once was during his training.

“Right now at this age sometimes you cannot recover overnight. Sometimes I have to take rest and let my body fully recover,” said Pacquiao.

Much of the rest of the training regimen remains the same.

Filipino dishes like fried Pampano fish and chicken tinola and plenty of rice remain among the home-cooked meals he devours in camp to push his weight up to the welterweight range and keep from dipping into the 130s.

Pacquiao was able to keep up with much younger sparring partners George Kambosos Jr. and Arnold Gonzalez on Tuesday, going four rounds with each as he tapers down his sparring with two sparring days remaining.

Now that Pacquiao is signed with Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, there’s a seemingly endless list of 147-pounders who could line up to face Pacquiao.

Roach is only interested in Broner and a rematch with Mayweather.

“Not really,” said Roach. “I would like these two fights to happen and then maybe President Manny Pacquiao after that.”

Mayweather hasn’t fought a pro boxer since his 2015 win over Andre Berto, and his last two trips in the ring were against UFC star Conor McGregor in a 2017 mismatch and a one-minute knockout of the much smaller kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in a New Year’s Eve exhibition in Japan.

With Pacquiao now signed to the same advisor as Mayweather, the sport’s politics are less an obstacle to a rematch than Mayweather’s apparent lack of desire to return to boxing.



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