Tim Tszyu
Tim Tszyu to spar with Manny Pacquiao?
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - June 1, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — “Regular” WBA welterweight champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao is expected to kick off sparring on Tuesday in preparation for his unification duel with “super” WBA titlist Keith Thurman at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on July 20 and Australian superwelterweight ruler Tim Tszyu may be brought in from Sydney to take over from George Kambosos as chief sparmate.

Pacquiao’s head trainer Buboy Fernandez said the goal in training camp is to work on speed and stamina. “That’s what we need against Thurman,” he noted yesterday in Pilipino. “Our plan is to attack Thurman who’s flat-footed. Against (Shawn) Porter, I noticed Thurman leaned on the ropes a lot then countered. If he does that against Manny, he’ll pay for it. Manny’s not like Porter. He’ll make Thurman feel his punches. Thurman likes to move around but isn’t as quick as Manny.”

Fernandez, newly-elected Vice Mayor of Polangui, Albay, said strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune, who arrived here from Los Angeles last Sunday, has suggested tapping Tszyu as a sparring partner since Kambosos is unavailable. Kambosos, a Greek-Australian, sparred with Pacquiao in preparation for Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner. He’s booked to fight in Athens on June 7. Tszyu’s father Kostya, a Russian who relocated to Australia but is now back in Moscow, was a former world lightwelterweight champion. Tszyu, 24, stands 5-9 and has a 13-0 record, with 10 KOs. Fortune said Tszyu is more a boxer than a puncher and fights a similar style as Thurman. 

“From what I know, Tszyu’s next fight is in August so it’s a great opportunity for him to spar with Manny and learn from him,” said Fortune. “We want to start sparring on Tuesday. If Tszyu’s not available, we’ll go with local guys. We’ll train in Manila up to when Manny leaves for L. A. on June 14 or 15 so he starts training at Wild Card on Monday, June 17. Our plan is for Manny to start sparring eight rounds when he gets to L. A. so he’ll work four to six rounds in Manila.”

Fernandez said he hasn’t seen Pacquiao as focused in training for an opponent as he is now. When Pacquiao reported for work at the Elorde gym near MOA last Wednesday, he told Fernandez to tire him out. “Manny went 10 rounds straight in training,” said Fernandez. “He wants to be 100 percent. I think Manny got mad at Thurman for disrespecting the Bible during the media tour. I haven’t seen Manny so focused on beating up an opponent since the third (Erik) Morales fight (in 2006). We’re studying Thurman’s style. I notice he sometimes goes southpaw. We’re prepared for that. He’s weak in the body. We know that. He’s had problems with his right elbow, left hand and shoulder. We know that, too. We’re coming in prepared.”

Fernandez said he’s not worried about Thurman’s reputation as a smart, two-way fighter. “Broner’s a very talented fighter but when he felt Manny’s power, he wasn’t the same anymore,” he said. “That’s what will happen to Thurman, no matter how good he’s supposed to be.” Fernandez said Broner never had a chance. “Before the fight, Freddie (Roach) and I insisted for Broner to shave his beard,” said Fernandez. “We wanted Manny to see where his jaw is. So he shaved it.”

Fernandez said he’s reviewed Thurman’s win by a unanimous decision over Shawn Porter, a former Pacquiao sparmate and now the WBC welterweight champion, in 2016. “I saw a lot of things we can take advantage of,” said Fernandez. Thurman’s win was described by Ring Magazine as “gritty” and “a sign of his emerging know-how.” There were no knockdowns but the match was a Fight of the Year contender and entertained a CBS average audience of 3.1 million viewers, peaking at 3.94 million.

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