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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pacquiao Focuses on Life Inside and Outside Ring

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In the Philipines, the expectations of Manny Pacquiao have reached lofty levels: his countrymen are starting to believe that there is nothing their champion can't do.

In preparation for Nov. 14, when he'll challenge WBO welterweight titlist Miguel Cotto (34-1, 27 knockouts) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas at a catch-weight of 145 pounds, Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs) appears to be in sensational shape thanks to a grueling training regimen.

Reportedly a four-hour ordeal, Pacquiao's workouts are simply "inhumane," said his promoter, Bob Arum, "something very few people in the world" can endure.

Pacquiao is also a political force in his country, where he is running for Congress. There have been typhoons in the Philippines, and Pacquiao is helping to save lives by personally delivering food into devastated areas.

And if you ask Arum, "Pacquiao's people" are close to believing that he is more powerful than a locomotive, is able to out-run a speeding bullet, and is capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound.

Ironically, the fighter whose nickname is "The Pac Man" even spent time last month filming a movie in the Philippines in which he plays a super hero -- Wambat Man -- whose powers are a combination of those of Superman and Spiderman.

"Wait until you see what the HBO cameras caught on film," said Arum, referring to the cable network's 24/7 series documenting the fighters' camps leading up to their matchup. "They got Manny swimming in an outdoor pool in the middle of a typhoon. It's amazing. But then, this kid is truly amazing."

Arum believes that Pacquiao, who lost his last bid for Congress in the local district, should have a better shot this time "and perhaps get the biggest vote in history if he chooses to run on the party list in the national election."

"Manny's becoming like a god-like figure to these people, but part of it is that he's so unassuming," Arum said of Pacquiao, who is often trailed by admirers during his early morning runs. "He just acts like he's one of them, and they just love him."

Pacquiao's popularity has crossed over into America, where last month, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at San Diego's PETCO Park before the Padres' baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Most recently, Pacquiao was shown flexing his upper torso in ESPN the Magazine's Body Issue, which featured other celebrities -- some of them nude -- such as tennis star Serena Williams and the Minnesota Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson.

Arum has witnessed Pacquaio's present workouts, which have taken place approximately a mile above sea level at Baguio City's Shape-Up Gym in the Philippines since Sept. 21.

"Before he does anything, he goes down into a corner of the room, kneels down, crosses himself, and says a prayer. Then, Manny does the usual warming up exercises to get limbered up and so forth," Arum said of Pacquiao.

"And then, Manny spars with real life sparring partners, at least 10 rounds," said Arum. "In between rounds, he doesn't sit down."

Pacquaio, who is required to complete 160 rounds of sparring, has employed among his foils former world champion Jose Luis Castillo and Shawn Porter, and could also use either Urbano Antillon or Danny Escobar.

Porter, 21, of Akron, Ohio, is 10-0 with eight knockouts. Antillon, 27, of Maywood, Calif., is 26-1 with 19 KOs. Escobar, 20, of Riverside, Calif., is 3-0 with as many KOs.

"After the sparring, Manny goes right into hitting the mitts," held by trainer, Freddie Roach, "for 10-or-12 rounds -- never stopping between rounds," said Arum. "Then he hits the heavy bag -- not so much the speed bag -- for 45 minutes. Then he jumps rope."

And then, "Manny does these amazing friggin excercises -- the crunches, contortions of his body in different directions," said Arum. "It looks like it's excruciatingly difficult, and it's stuff that I've never seen before."

Arum said the completion of Pacquiao's workout involves "an assistant trainer, with a stick, hitting him like a mad man right in the stomach for like 20 minutes," he said. "It's like, Boom! Boom!. It's directly onto his bare stomach. You're just cringing."

But Pacquiao is nothing if not brave, having broken training earlier this month to provide aid during typhoons that have caused the country's worst flooding in four decades and, reportedly, some 500 deaths.

Typhoon Parma began on Sept. 26, near Baguio City.

After a Saturday workout in Baguio, Arum said Pacquiao drove some 125 miles "through a rainstorm down to Manila to give away food to the people who were made homeless by the floods on the Sunday following training in addition to contributing money."

Pacquiao is unassuming about his volunteering.

"We do as much as we can do when it comes to helping each other," Pacquiao said. "My efforts with the relief efforts are no more important than any other volunteers. It was my honor to be allowed to lend a hand."

The fighter will leave for Los Angeles this Saturday. The ensuing Monday begins Pacquiao's regimen at 2008 Trainer Of The Year Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym. On Nov. 9, Pacquiao will leave The Wild Card for Las Vegas.

Since his career began at 106 pounds in January 1995, Pacquiao has won titles at flyweight (115 pounds), super bantamweight (122), super featherweight (130), lightweight (135) and junior welterweight (140), with notable wins over Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales.

The 2008 Fighter Of The Year shares an alternate nickname, "The Greatest," with another former champion -- a comparison Arum said is not that far off.

"The closest I've seen to this kid's adoration is when Muhammad Ali came back from the three years when he was deprived of fighting. There were segments of the population that just couldn't get enough of Ali," said Arum.

"This kid has that type of relationship with the people, except that Ali had some people who resented him because of the stand he took in the Viet Nam war," said Arum. "Unlike Ali, there doesn't seem to be a segment of the people who don't like Pacquiao."

Source: http://boxing.fanhouse.com/2009/10/18/pacquiao-focuses-on-life-inside-and-outside-ring/

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