Bradley no piece of cake
Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) - April 7, 2014 - 12:00am

LOS ANGELES – Freddie Roach has declared Manny Pacquiao a hundred percent ready for his rematch with Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand.

It’s exactly a week to the fight and training has shifted to low gear at the Wild Card Gym here. They did six rounds of sparring on a cold Saturday afternoon.

Pacquiao takes a day off Sunday. He may or may not run in the morning. But the whole day will be spent in relaxation with his family and a throng of friends.

On Monday, Pacquiao will spar a few more rounds. Roach said they can do three or four rounds, and in the afternoon Team Pacquiao drives off to Las Vegas.

“He’s ready to fight,” said Roach.

But for a key member of Team Pacquiao, the man tasked to keep the Filipino boxer back in tip-top shape, being 100 percent ready doesn’t guarantee an easy fight.

“This is not a cakewalk for Manny,” said Justine Fortune, who’s back as Pacquiao’s conditioning coach after a separation of almost seven years.

Fortune, the beefy former heavyweight contender from Australia, is back taking care of the Filipino boxer’s conditioning.

Fortune said Pacquiao is back to some of his old methods and his old form.

“Manny has good muscle memory. I am just bringing the old training methods,” said Fortune, who parted ways with Pacquiao in 2007 to put up his own gym along Sunset Boulevard.

It was Fortune who introduced Pacquiao to the Thai sticks, a very painful process where certain body parts, normally the abs and the arms, are repeatedly hit with a bamboo stick.

Fortune said he didn’t employ the sticks this time because it required a longer period to achieve the result.

“You just don’t do it in such a short time span. You need eight to 10 weeks and I didn’t have enough time,” he said.

Still, Fortune said he’s amazed with Pacquiao’s conditioning. He said the eight-division world champion can run 45 minutes uphill at full speed.

“His conditioning is very good,” said Fortune.

Then there’s no problem with the weight either. Pacquiao’s training assistant, Roger Fernandez, said the boxer walks around the welterweight limit.

“Kain pa nga ako ng kain (I just keep on eating),” said Pacquiao.

Fortune said Pacquiao’s speed and power might prove lethal against Bradley, who survived a 12th round knockdown in a close win over Ruslan Provodnikov last year.

Bradley firmly believes that his victory over Provodnikov, coupled by another win against Juan Manuel Marquez, now gives him the edge against Pacquiao.

But Fortune said Provodnikov is not Pacquiao.

“Provodnikov has a lot of power but he doesn’t have the speed that Manny has,” he said.

The boxer who once fought heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis added that Bradley is certainly no push-over.

“He has a big heart and we are preparing hard for Bradley. You don’t take somebody like him lightly,” Fortune said.

Another familiar figure in Pacquiao’s training camps, former two-time world champion Gerry Peñalosa, shared his thoughts on the rematch.

“I can see the old Pacquiao and if what he does in sparring is carried over into the ring, then Bradley won’t last the distance,” he said.

Still, there are those who say that it won’t be a piece of cake.


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