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Champ in jolly mood days before fight

LOS ANGELES – Manny Pacquiao being in a playful mood the last couple of days only means he’s ready to fight.

“That should be a sign that he’s ready to fight and tired to train,” said his trainer Freddie Roach after Saturday’s workout at the Wild Card Gym.

Pacquiao sparred six rounds, three each with Rashad Holloway and Marvin Cordova, and Roach noticed that he turned serious only when he wanted to.

“It was not a heavy day just six rounds. He was playful in there. We’re just going through the motions right now,” the trainer said.

Even when he ran for 30 minutes at the Pan Pacific Park in La Brea, under the morning temperature of just 10-plus degrees, Pacquiao was in a jolly mood.

Pacquiao ran with just anybody who wanted to join him, his Jack Russell Terrier named “Pacman” right with him, and he smiled most of the time.

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Later on, he said everything’s fine, and was happy to announce that the other day he was at 148 pounds without having to skip meals.

“One-forty-eight!” he said, then saying, “We just established that Oscar is having great difficulty against counterpunchers. So, when he throws that jab, bang-bang,” he said.

After his run, Pacquiao spent a few minutes of ribbing with team members and friends who visited him in the park. Then he worked on his abs, doing 1,300 crunches.

Pacquiao is on his ninth week of training for the Dec. 6 fight with Oscar dela Hoya, and has logged a total of 159 rounds of sparring.

Pacquiao has never trained so long, so hard for a fight, and his Pinoy handler, Buboy Fernandez, said they’ve never sparred as many rounds as before.

Roach said they’ve done everything in training.

“There’s nothing else we can do. We know the game plan. He’s in great shape. We’re just maintaining. The weight is no problem and we’re ready to go,” he said.

But it doesn’t really mean that Roach is calling things off. Pacquiao takes a rest Sunday, and closes out his sparring with four rounds on Monday.

In fact, he ordered the scheduled public send-off for Pacquiao on Monday when he leaves for Las Vegas along with his huge entourage.

Top Rank’s publicist Fred Sternburg sent out e-mails the other day calling on the Pacman Nation to be at the Wild Card parking lot for the send-off.

It would have drawn a throng of Pacquiao supporters, but Roach pulled the plug, saying “it’s (still) time to get down to business.”

“Monday is our last day of training camp and we have a lot to work on. We have discovered a new flaw in Oscar’s defense from a recent fight tape and we’re adding a new weapon to Manny’s repertoire.

“I don’t want any distractions from that and I don’t want Manny held up from a timely departure from the gym. Canceling Monday’s rally is totally my call. I’m sure Manny’s fans will understand,” said Roach in another e-mail from Sternburg.

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