Pacquiao gets ‘A’ in sparring


HOLLYWOOD, California—Manny Pacquiao sparred the last of his four-rounders on Saturday, a week before the senator goes after Yordenis Ugas’s World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight belt.

And impressed Abraham Lopez was.

“It’s going to be a stoppage in the later rounds for Manny [Pacquiao],” the 25-year-old Lopez told BusinessMirror after their sparring session, adding that Pacquiao packs his trademark persistency, timing and “everything else” at 42.

“You cannot be slow with Manny, and Ugas is too open,” said Lopez, who’s three inches taller than the 5-foot-6 Pacquiao. “Ugas throws jabs and brings you down too slowly.”

Ugas replaced International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Council welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. who underwent surgery to repair a torn retina in his right eye on Wednesday.

Team Pacquiao immediately switched strategy and called out right-handed sparring partners who mimic Ugas’s orthodox style. Besides Lopez, also called in were Wild Card regulars Arnold Gonzalez, Ivan Redkach and Giovanni Cabrera.

Renowned trainer Freddie Roach instructed Lopez to box the way Ugas does, much in the same manner as they prepared for Keith Thurman, who Pacquiao beat via split decision in July 2019 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao sewed together eight rounds of sparring last week before shifting to a light conditioning routine.  His team leaves for Las Vegas on Monday (Tuesday in Manila), a good five days before fight night on Sunday at the T-Mobile Arena.

Pacquiao, who drove to the Wild Card Gym after lunch on his black two-door Mercedes SL 550, immediately plunged into his usual body warmup before hitting the mitts with chief trainer Buboy Fernandez while Roach gave instructions.

After the sparring session, Pacquiao pummeled the punching bag, double end bag and speed ball.

“I feel real good,” Pacquiao said. “The coaching staff, especially coach Freddie [Roach], says the timing is there.”

Around 50 fans, including Filipina actor KC Concepcion, went to see Pacquiao train at the Wild Card Gym on Saturday. Everyone had to undergo antigen tests and were barred from taking photos or videos, including media, while Pacquiao trained.


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