Fortune sees Pacquiao nearing peak form
Manny Pacquiao works with Justin Fortune.
Wendell Rupert Alinea/MP Promotions

Fortune sees Pacquiao nearing peak form

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - July 3, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Australian strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune said yesterday Manny Pacquiao is now 90 percent ready to fight Keith Thurman but he’s careful not to peak too early, pacing himself from now until the WBA welterweight title unification bout reels off at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on July 20.

“I always tell Manny to listen to his body,” said Fortune. “So far, it’s been a great camp. When he wakes up in the morning and feels like taking the day off from training, it’s OK. His body needs to rest and I don’t want Manny to burn out. Right now, he’s doing 10 rounds of sparring. We’ll move up to 12 then drop down to 10, eight and finally six. On his last day of sparring the Saturday before leaving for Las Vegas on Monday (July 15), he’ll do six rounds then taper off. It’s exactly where we want Manny to be physically.”

Fortune said if the fight were scheduled this weekend, Pacquiao would be good to go. “We’ve got a few more weeks before the fight,” he said. “We don’t want Manny at his peak yet. He’s holding back but any time he wants, Manny’s ready to go. Sparring has been excellent. The new guy Jessie Roman imitates Thurman’s speed and his style is very similar.” 

Fortune said he’s never met Thurman’s strength and conditioning coach Yo Murphy. “I don’t know him,” he said. “I heard he’s a former pro football player. He’s never been a boxer. I think it’s weird that someone who doesn’t know boxing is working with a boxer. This guy’s never been punched in the ring. He doesn’t know what it feels like boxing. So how can he be a strength and conditioning coach of a boxer when he doesn’t know boxing. He may be a good strength and conditioning coach for football players but what can he teach Thurman?”

Murphy, 48, was a wide receiver with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings in the National Football League. He’s the only player to see action in the NFL Super Bowl, NFL Europe and the Canadian League championship games. Murphy is co-owner and sports performance director of the Applied Science and Performance Institute in Tampa, Florida. Thurman works out in Florida with head trainer Dan Birmingham.

Fortune said since starting to train for Thurman in Manila over a month ago, Pacquiao hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down. “Not at all,” said Fortune. “Last Saturday, he went 10 rounds of sparring and it was ridiculous how intense he was. Manny knows when to turn it on. He has tons of strength. I haven’t seen any fighter who trains like him and enjoys it. I started with Manny in 2003 when he fought (Marco Antonio) Barrera for the first time in San Antonio.  In the gym, Manny’s happy. He has fun but doesn’t take things lightly. He works hard. I’ve never seen Manny out of shape. I don’t know how Thurman is doing in his camp. All I hear is his mouthing off. Maybe, it’s his way of making himself feel good but he ends up being insulting to Manny. You don’t want to get Manny mad. He’ll do to you 10 times more than what you’ll do to him when you get in the ring with him.”

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