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Sports

Pacquiao gears up for training

Abac Cordero - The Philippine Star

VANCOUVER – As the city braced for a weekend snowstorm, Manny Pacquiao flew out of New York Friday morning and headed home after a whirlwind press tour with his American rival Timothy Bradley.

Pacquiao stepped out of the Le Parker Meridien on West 56th Street a little past 7 a.m. under sub-zero temperature. He was met by a gust of wind as he boarded a black SUV that took him to the JFK Airport.

The 37-year-old superstar and his entourage made up of 10 other persons including wife Jinkee boarded a Philippine Airlines flight to Manila via Vancouver.

There was forecast of a snowstorm in New York, and Pacquiao didn’t want to get caught in the serious weather disturbance that is expected to dump at least eight inches of snow in New York.

Because of the winter storm, at least 3,000 domestic flights in the East Coast were cancelled Friday, and over 3,000 cancelled for Saturday.

“Kailangan makaalis na tayo dito (We need to get out of here),” said Pacquiao before leaving his hotel in New York.

At the JFK Airport, Pacquiao was met by fans and supporters who sought pictures and autographs, from airport, immigration and customs officials to ordinary fans.

“Go knock him (Bradley) out this time,” a foreign immigration official told Pacquiao as he walked by.

At the departure area, Pacquiao was mobbed by more fans, and it took him long before he could settle down and enjoy a cup of Starbucks dessert with his wife.

Pacquiao sat on first class on PR 127. After a one-hour layover, he boarded the same plane for another 13-hour flight to Manila. They were scheduled to fly to General Santos City Saturday morning.

He said he wasn’t able to sleep during the four-hour flight to Vancouver.

Once he gets home, the 37-year-old Pacquiao will prepare his plans for an eight-week training for his April 9 clash with Bradley.

It’s their third meeting since 2012, and it will be Pacquiao’s last fight.

“Last fight. Kailangan impressive,” he said.

According to one of his assistants, Filipino-speaking American David Sison, Pacquiao has decided to train in General Santos City.

“It will be the first or second week of February. Freddie Roach will arrive in the Philippines either on the 13th or 14th of February for the training,” he said.

Pacquiao said he didn’t want to train in Manila because it’s too hectic in the city. He is running for senator in the May elections, and is worried that friends in politics might cause him distractions.

His adviser, Mike Koncz, felt that it’s better to train in GenSan than in Manila because they have better control over the area.

As part of his early preparations, Pacquiao has been playing basketball too often these days. Even during a break in his press tour in Los Angeles four days ago, he played basketball at a local high school gym.

Pacquiao said he will skip his duties as playing-coach of the Mahindra Enforcers in the Philippine Basketball Association to focus on his training.

“Next time na muna sa PBA. Hindi din ako maka-focus. I can’t play while I train. So training muna tayo,” he said.

ACIRC AMERICAN DAVID SISON BRADLEY EAST COAST FREDDIE ROACH GENERAL SANTOS CITY GENERAL SANTOS CITY SATURDAY KAILANGAN LE PARKER MERIDIEN NEW YORK PACQUIAO
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