MANILA, Philippines - Manny Pacquiao might just go for the early kill against Antonio Margarito.
“Siguro aatake kami (We might move in) first and second (rounds),” said the Filipino pound-for-pound champion after a rain-soaked workout yesterday morning at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
“But it depends,” he said.
It may depend, of course, on how Margarito would come out of his corner as well because if the Mexican who stands six feet tall opts to slug it out early, then Pacquiao would never back down.
On his way out and into his brand-new SUV, after the 90-minute workout, Pacquiao said he felt fine.
“My condition, my body, my speed are okay although I feel I still need to work on my speed. I’m comfortable. I’m not slow. But there’s still work to be done on my speed,” he said.
“I’m okay with my sparring. I did 11 rounds the other day,” said Pacquiao, who gave himself a rating of “nine-and-a-half.”
“Never in this camp did I ever feel like I didn’t want to go out and train,” said the boxer who has skipped gym work twice and roadwork three or four times over the last four weeks.
Bob Arum delivered the wake-up call when he said last Monday during a visit to Pacquiao’s camp in Baguio that “if the fight happened on Saturday Margarito would win the fight.”
After watching Pacquiao train last Saturday, Arum said he didn’t see the speed the Pinoy icon would need to beat Margarito.
But Arum left the country last Thursday with a smile after seeing overnight progress in Pacquiao’s training, and getting an assurance from Freddie Roach that things are in check.
“I’m ready,” Pacquiao said yesterday.
Pacquiao was almost done with his speed drills, wind sprints and exercises similar to what NFL players do, when heavy rains fell on him and his trainers Alex Ariza, Buboy Fernandez and Nonoy Neri.
Pacquiao wrapped up his footwork exercises under the rain, covering himself with a white beach towel.
They all had to seek shelter near the stadium entrance. But by the time they got there they were soaked. Pacquiao had to change clothes before he could resume with his abdominal exercises.
A small crowd gathered around Pacquiao, including fellow boxers Roel Velasco, a bronze medalist in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and Joan Tipon, gold medalist in the 2006 Doha Asian Games.
Pacquiao was trying to get going with his abdominal exercises when Ariza, his strength and conditioning coach, noticed that the 31-year-old superstar seemed to be catching up on his breath.
“That’s okay, Manny. You’ve just come from high-altitude training,” said Ariza, who later explained that there should be a little difficulty with his air intake after spending three weeks in Baguio City.
“By tomorrow it’ll be gone. It’s normal,” said Ariza.
Pacquiao wrapped up his Baguio training with 11 rounds of sparring against Michael Medina, Glen Tapia and Amir Khan last Thursday. He will spar again today at the Elorde Gym and leave for Los Angeles in the evening.
Pacquiao will arrive in LA on a Saturday, and after a full day rest the following day, he resumes training at the Wild Card Gym on Monday. It will be two weeks of hell at the Hollywood sweatshop.
“This would be a big week for sparring. This week and next week. It would be the toughest two weeks coming up,” said Roach, who can’t wait for the day they get to LA.
“With the weather (here) and so forth, yes. And I have more sparring there, better sparring. No, not better, but more of the style I’ve been looking for,” said the celebrated trainer.
Roach is sticking to his prediction of another knockout win by Pacquiao, and early on in this camp he said Margarito may even suffer the fate of Ricky Hatton, down and out in two rounds.
“I’m thinking about that,” said Roach, still on the same page with Pacquiao.
Abac Cordero, Philippine Star