Roach opens GenSan camp sans Somodio
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - February 24, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Freddie Roach will go it alone without Filipino chief assistant Marvin Somodio in Manny Pacquiao’s training camp in General Santos City but the entire team reunites at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles tentatively in two weeks.

No date is set for Pacquiao’s departure for the US but the plan is to train about a month in Los Angeles before the fight against WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas on April 12. Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz said the other day he will discuss the timetable with the Filipino icon when they meet in General Santos City. But it could be sometime in the first two weeks of March, possibly March 10, to allow a month of rigid training in Roach’s new exclusive gym on the ground floor of the Vine Street strip mall that used to be a Laundromat. The new facility was bought by Roach to provide privacy for Pacquiao and is located below the popular Wild Card Gym.

Awaiting Pacquiao’s arrival in Los Angeles are Somodio, conditioning coach Justin Fortune and former WBO lightwelterweight champion Kendall Holt who has reportedly signed up as a sparring partner. A possible addition to the list of sparmates is former IBF superfeatherweight titlist Steve Forbes who has fought the likes of Oscar de la Hoya and Andre Berto. The knock on Forbes is he hasn’t fought in over a year. Forbes, 37, is also coming off four straight losses.

Somodio wasn’t with Roach for Chinese flyweight Zou Shiming’s knockout win over Thailand’s Yokthong Kokietgym at 2:09 of the seventh round in the Cotai Arena of the Venetian Resort Macau last Saturday night. Roach was scheduled to fly to Manila from Macau yesterday morning and connect to General Santos City in the afternoon.

Somodio was assigned by Roach to take care of two fighters, lightmiddleweight Taraas Shelestyuk of Ukraine and lightweight Fedor Papazov of Russia, who were booked in a card in Laughlin, Nevada, last Friday. As it turned out, Papazov lost his first pro bout to Petr Petrov on points in a sixer while Shelestyuk scored a knockout in 45 seconds of the opening round. Somodio said Papazov had limited training for Petrov as he arrived late from Russia. The Filipino will take care of business at the Wild Card Gym in Roach’s absence.

“I’ll wait for them in L. A.,” said Somodio. “Justin will also be in L. A. waiting for Manny and Freddie. Gavin (MacMillan) will stay as conditioning coach with Ruslan (Provodnikov) and (Miguel) Cotto and he trains many other fighters at Wild Card.” Fortune was supposed to take over from Alex Ariza for Pacquiao’s fight against Brandon Rios last year but couldn’t disengage from his US commitments so Roach brought in MacMillan on an interim basis.

Somodio said no doubt, Pacquiao must be aggressive against the defending WBO welterweight champion who took the crown from the Filipino on a highly-disputed split decision two years ago. “Bradley is effective from a distance but if he’s pressured, he loses his ability to use his skills and isn’t able to execute his fight plan,” said Somodio. “I’m not sure if I’ll be in Manny’s corner for this fight. Whatever Freddie wants me to do, I’ll be ready to assist the best way I know.”

Aside from Roach, others expected to fly in from Macau yesterday were Pacquiao stable fighters Harmonito de la Torre and Jerwin Ancajas. De la Torre stopped Indonesia’s Yakobus Heluka in the first round while Ancajas disposed of Thailand’s Inthanon Sithchamuang in the second in the Macau card last Saturday. Another Filipino, former WBO superflyweight champion Marvin Sonsona, impressed in the card. Sonsona, 23, halted former WBA superbantamweight champion Akifumi Shimoda of Japan at 1:17 of the third round to capture the WBO International featherweight crown.

Top Rank is now filling in the slots for the Pacquiao-Bradley undercard and so far, three other 12-rounders are in the bill. WBA/IBO lightwelterweight king Khabib Allakhverdiev of Russia takes on Los Angeles challenger Jessie Vargas in a battle of unbeaten stars. Khabib, 31, has a 19-0 record, with 9 KOs, while Vargas, 24, is 23-0, with 9 KOs. Former Pacquiao sparmate Raymundo (Sugar) Beltran, 32, faces Puerto Rico’s Roman Martinez, 31, in a WBO lightweight eliminator. Mexico’s Jose Felix, Jr., 21, meets Costa Rica’s interim WBA superfeatherweight champion Bryan Vasquez in another 12-rounder. Felix, Jr. has a 26-0-1 record, with 21 KOs. Vasquez, who is making his US debut, checks in with a 32-1 mark, including 17 KOs.

Koncz said there are two slots in the Las Vegas card reserved for Pacquiao nominees but it’s not sure if they’ll be taken because Top Rank has three more shows in Macau and one in Singapore lined up this year. Pacquiao may decide to designate fighters for the Macau and Singapore bills instead.

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