By EDDIE G. ALINEA
LOS ANGLES/LAS VEGAS – Handlers of Filipino ring great Manny Pacquiao declared the eight-division world champion in shape on Thursday (Friday in Manila), exactly a week to his WBA welterweight title showdown with substitute opponent Yordenis Ugas set August 21 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
This writer learned the news from Pacquiao’s Australian conditioning coach Justin Fortune in a chanced long distance telephone interview Friday from Los Angeles where the Filipino, who will be trying to get back the championship belt the WBA stripped him of last January has been in deep training since July 5.
“Yeah, Manny’s already in top fighting form and ready to face anybody that crosses his path anytime from today,” Fortune assured Philboxing.com following Pacquiao’s four-hour training session at the world famous Wild Card Boxing Gym along Vine Street in Hollywood.
Fortune said that starting that Thursday, three days before then fighting senator and his team depart to Las Vegas, training consultant Freddie Roach, chief trainer Buboy Fernandez and assistants Nonoy Neri and Rogeer “Haplas” have agreed to taper off their boss’ training regimen they’ve been following religiously since last month.
In fact, nstead of the usual six to eight rounds of sparring, Pacquiao only did two rounds each against three dancing partners — promising welterweights Giovanni Cabrera, AB Lopez and Ivan Redcach on Thursday.
He also worked the mitts with Roach for nine rounds, visited the double end ball for a couple of rounds before ending the session with a six-minute punching the speed ball and his routine calisthenics and limbering up exercises.
“Kondisyon na si Boss,” boyhood friend Buboy and his assistants chorused. “Two and and a-half months na kami dito sa L.A. ang counting an almost two months bulid up program that we started in GenSan (General Santos City) almost four months na kaming nagte-train.”
“Nothing has changed with Manny. Nandoon pa rin ang power niya at speed. In our estimate, he’s stronger now and quicker compared to his last fight two years ago,” the three said in reference to Manny’s last fhe won versus erstwhile undefeated American Keith Thurman July of 2019.
Pacquiao was originally scheduled to battle unbeaten American champion Errol Spence for the latter’s WBC/IBF 147-pound diadems that was cancelled earlier this week after the American suffered a retina tear in his left eye.
Pacquiao and his team bade the L.A. camp goodbye on Friday and Saturday.
By tradition, Team Pacquiao motors to Nevada’s sin city early afternoon on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) following a light training scheduled at Wild Card.