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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Get to Know Pacquiao's Sparring Partners

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When it was announced that Pacquiao would begin his training camp in the Philippines, I was not, as seemed the prevailing concern, worried that the location would be a distraction, but rather that it would be difficult to get quality sparring partners to travel half the globe away. So I was excited and pleased to hear that Pacquiao’s training mates had arrived this week and seem of excellent quality and suitability. I guess if you are the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world with a virtually unlimited camp budget it is surprisingly easy to get your choice of sparring partners.

Now, as a caveat, sparring partners are only one element of a good camp, and it doesn’t necessarily take a great fighter to be a great sparring partner. It is sometimes better to get decent fighters who are willing to work for you to prepare rather than top fighters who feel they have something to prove. That being said, it is best to get quality work from quality fighters, and, I think, just fun to think about. So here is a look at the fighters Roach has chosen.

Shawn Porter:
Age: 21
Division: Light Middle
Record: 10-0 8 KO

I think Porter is the most intriguing of the fighters Roach has brought in to work with Pacquiao. He had a successful amateur career and has been busy in his short time as a professional. I have seen him fight on ESPN a couple of times and noted him as a prospect to watch. He is very aggressive and strong, a committed body puncher. It is obvious he still has many technical flaws, but the raw tools are readily apparent. He is from Cincinnati, a great boxing town, and fights a little like legendary Cincinnati native Aaron Pryor.

Porter should be able to help Pacquiao prepare for Cotto’s physical strength. In this clip you can see Porter bullying an opponent against the ropes, something Cotto likely will attempt as well.

Pacquiao will need to be able to spin out of danger when pressed, always being wary of the explosive left to the body that Cotto possesses. While Porter is still a little crude, I expect him to give Pacquiao excellent work, and hope to see his career progress in the future.

Here is a clip of his most recent fight.

David Rodela
Age: 27
Division: super featherweight
Record: 14-1-2 6 KO

I’ll admit that I’m not that familiar with Rodela, but he has worked with Pacquiao and Roach before so they are obviously comfortable. I’m almost certain I’ve seen him fight, but can’t seem to recall when. Rodela is from Oxnard, where Fernando Vargas and quite a few other boxers of Mexican descent have emerged from over recent years. He beat old warhorse Kevin Kelley not too long ago and seems like an honest and decent, if not overwhelmingly talented, pro. His personal story is remarkable as well, having recovered from a severe car accident to return to the ring.

He is obviously a huge fan of Pacquiao and willing to give him whatever work he needs to prepare for the fight, as this clip shows. The interview is funny, and for those of you with a distaste for poor Ricky Hatton, skip forward to the five minute mark to see him receive yet another indignity.

Raymond Serrano
Age: 20
Division: Welter
Record: 10-0 6 KO

Like Shawn Porter, Serrano is young and strong, with high hopes for his future career. His competition thus far has been exceedingly soft, but that is the way it should be for someone who just turned twenty. He fought on ESPN in March and looked good in winning every round. From the clip of the fight you can see he is still developing, but he has good hand speed and a similar high guard to that which Cotto employs.

Pacquiao will need to split the gap with his straight left in order to gain Cotto’s respect, and Serrano should provide good practice in working through the center of the guard. To my eyes his tools make him seem a slightly less intriguing prospect than Porter, but he is certainly one to keep an eye on over the next few years.

Urbano Antillon
Age: 27
Division: Lightweight
Record 26-1 19 KO

By far the most advanced and accomplished of Pacquiao’s sparring mates, Antillon, A Mexican puncher-boxer has mixed it up at high levels of the lightweight division. Perhaps his most notable win for our purposes was his thorough and precise first round victory over Manny’s brother, Bobby, via body shots.

Antillon seems the most stylistically similar fighter to Cotto, and though he obviously lacks the strength and the special qualities that the Puerto Rican possesses, it is clear why Roach has brought him into the camp. Urbano has similar head movement to Cotto and seems to love shooting that quick left hook to the body. In addition, like Serrano he employs something resembling Cotto’s high guard and the same stalking, but largely flat-footed pressure style that Cotto uses so effectively. One imagines he will be useful for working on the counter right hook that Manny employed to such devastating effect against Ricky Hatton. Miguel Cotto was nearly knocked out by the right hook against Demarcus Corley, like Manny a southpaw, and Roach will surely emphasis the punch along with Manny’s trademark straight left.

One cannot complete the conversation about Antillon without reference to his most recent fight against Miguel Acosta. I recall watching the bout and being impressed with Antillon’s work, until the ninth round, when he ate one of the most lovely and vicious uppercuts you will ever see. Skip ahead to 6:20 in the video to see, and more impressively, hear the massive punch land.

So Roach has brought in a nice mix of younger and older, bigger and smaller fighters for Pacquiao to work with. While none of the sparring partners are big names yet, they will be worth watching in the future. One imagines when Pacquiao returns to the United States for the final month of training there will be a different, perhaps more decorated, set of fighters to work with, but it is clear Roach and team Pacquiao will have excellent training partners even in his relatively remote training location.

I have not been able to find Miguel Cotto’s sparring partners, but I will try to do something similar after they are revealed. In the meantime, content yourself with this strange new HBO hype piece that has Cotto talking directly to Pacquiao on a vaguely disturbing set.

I love the set-up, with an almost end-of-days tone that borders on the gothic. It is like something they would do for a German or Japanese promotion and Pacquiao seems to have a bemused smirk throughout. I only wish Larry Merchant and his formidable eyebrows had been conducting the interview and given it an even creepier, more inquisitional tone.

Source: http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/The_Rumble/entry/view/37165/get_to_know_pacquiaos_sparring_partners

1 comment:

  1. With Porter, Manny must have an idea of Cotto's power. That's good, since it allows him to train better itself and to be more careful in the Ring. The point with that I'm not in agreement is with Roach saying that Manny will K.O. MC. Roach is such an inteligent trainer and I think he said that to give confidence to Manny and to play with the disturbed-post-Margarito-mind of MC, but I don't know. MC can be dangerous and people is sleeping on it.

    Manny is faster and has better stamina than MC, but MC is stronger and has an excellent timing. Timing can neutralize speed. A factor that people do not analyze much is when the boxers grab. Manny must avoid all the grabs unless it needs to do it. Usually, the smaller boxer loses more stamina in the grabs.


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