Manny Pacquiao needs to be in the “best shape of his life” for the kind of strategy that trainer Freddie Roach will use in his Nov. 13 showdown against Antonio Margarito.
Conditioning expert Alex Ariza said on Sunday that the pound-for-pound king needs “to be in better shape than he was for [Miguel] Cotto because his body has to be bigger and stronger, more explosive.”
Ariza said Pacquiao must bulk up against the taller, bigger Margarito when they tangle for the vacant WBC super welterweight crown next month in Arlington, Texas.
At the same time, Ariza said Pacquiao has to keep his speed to avoid getting caught on the ropes by the Mexican.
Doubts on the Filipino ring superstar’s fitness, less than five weeks before the fight, was raised over the weekend after chief trainer Freddie Roach was said to have resented Pacquiao’s failure to do road work in Baguio City the morning after playing basketball with friends.
Pacquiao, meanwhile, promised Ariza that he will focus on conditioning starting this week.
“Maybe Manny’s starting to realize that his body is not going to be able to endure a 155-pound guy throwing hammers at him,” Ariza said.
“When he (Margarito) starts jumping on you and grabbing you and being physical with you, he (Pacquiao) will realize he’s heavy, he’s strong and can wear you down."
“He’ll lean on you, put that shoulder into you, so you’ve got to be in tip-top shape for this.”
Ariza noted, however, that conditioning-wise Pacquiao is “getting there, little by little.”
After gracing the PMA Cavaliers Family Sportsfest Saturday and spending quality time with his family Sunday, Pacquiao returned to Baguio and went jogging yesterday morning.
With Pacquiao focused on his training, Ariza said there’s no cause for alarm.
“I think we have plenty of time. The program is there, he just has to do it,” said Ariza.
“I know its hard, I know he doesn’t like it. I know its taxing him with fatigue and everything but I’m not the one who is jumping up to 150 pounds. He is going to have to sacrifice.”
Ariza agreed with Roach’s decision to cut down Pacquiao’s sparring from 150 to around 100 rounds.
“When you are fighting bigger guys, you got to be careful,” said Ariza. “You can’t leave too much in training.”
Like Roach, Ariza was all praises for Pacquiao’s sparring partners—Glen Tapia (7-0, 5 KOs) and Michael Medina (24-2-2, 19 KOs).
“Those guys are big,” Ariza said. “They weigh on you. They are going to get better.”
His timing off, Pacquiao didn’t look too good in his first sparring session against Tapia on Tuesday last week.
On Saturday, Pacquiao appeared better against Medina, even bruising the Mexican’s face.
Pacquiao “doesn’t take a long time to get sharp inside the ring,” Ariza said. “I reiterate that my concern is his physical condition.”
Ronnie Nathanielsz, Phil. Daily Inquirer