MANNY PACQUIAO completed a final training session on Friday (November 21) ahead of Sunday’s WBO welterweight title fight with Chris Algieri.

Pacquiao stretched, loosened up and gradually built up the speed of his shadowboxing as he bounded across the ring. He was fast on his feet, very fast, bursting forward, shifting easily forward and back, all signs of power.

Freddie Roach put on the mitts and strapped the body belt round his waist. Pacquiao worked forward, taking Roach into corners, on to the ropes. He hammered in rapid-fire shots, multiple southpaw rights whipping across before he slammed a wickedly hard back hand into the pad. Even though the weigh-in takes place tomorrow morning, there was an intensity to Pacquiao’s training here. His fists drummed against the pads and he finished with an attacking burst into the body belt.

A stint on the speedball, his blurring rhythm apparent, and Pacquiao was warming down on the gym floor, still moving, grinning at those around him. He held his arms up as he looked into the mirror and declared happily, “Victory is mine.”

Pacquiao didn’t seem to be taking it particularly easy. (He ran for 23 minutes, we’re told, in the morning on the treadmill.) He’s expected to come in beneath the 144lbs catchweight easily.

“Manny, he’s really ready, he’s hungry for the first time in a long time,” his trainer Freddy Roach said. “He needs a big win right now, he knows that, to make the world come back on his side.

“He’s really fired up. I like what I see. I don’t talk about it too much with him because I don’t want to bother him about it but I like what I see. He’s very focused. He’s very mean on the mitts. Usually when he hits me a good shot, sometimes he knows he hurts me, he’ll say sorry and stuff like this. This [camp] he stayed on me, he knocked me down one day on the mitts. For the first time in a long time he had two knockdowns with the sparring partners, which is something I haven’t seen in a while. Everything I see is very good. I like what I see. I think he’s going to bring it out in the fight.”

Freddie has been working Pacquiao the way they used to train. “Manny came up to me and he said we’ve been doing the same thing for a long time, the same workouts and so forth and he wanted to go back to the old workouts with more heavy bag, less mitts and more strength work. So I said yes it’s time to change back to that. So we used the heavy bag quite a bit this time. We did five to six to eight rounds a day on the heavy bag, just exploding on it. It helped his strength, he’s punching a lot harder I feel. His punch rate has actually gone up since then also. His punch rate actually had been slipping a little bit in his last couple of fights. So I think that he just wanted to get back to where he was when we were fighting [Lehlo] Ledwaba and those guys a long time ago because I think we were getting a little stale with each other. We’d been together a long time and it was kind of the same thing over and over again. Always good hard work, but we just wanted to change it up a little bit,” Freddie said.


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Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank