Former 8-division world champion and Filipino ring icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao arrived in Los Angeles over the weekend along with head trainer Freddie Roach and assistant coach Buboy Fernandez in what could be his last training camp at the famed Wild Card Gym.
Pacquiao spent the first half of his training camp for American Timothy “The Desert Storm” Bradley at home in General Santos City, where Roach brought along with him two sparring partners for the former pound-for-pound king.
Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KO’s) is will take on Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KO’s) in a welterweight 12-rounder on April 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The pair have split victories in their first two fights, with Bradley taking a split decision in 2012 and Pacquiao taking a unanimous decision in 2014.
The 37-year old congressman is eyeing a Philippine senate seat, and he insists that this Bradley bout will be his last as a professional boxer.
Hall-of-fame coach Roach says he’s pleased with Pacquiao’s conditioning so far, and that he’s right where he wants to be.
“He’s getting real, real close. We boxed ten rounds on Saturday. It was his best day yet,” Roach told BoxingScene.com. “I’m happy. Every time Manny Pacquiao walks through those doors, everything else goes away. His work ethic takes over and it was great as usual.”
Pacquiao and Roach have had one of the longest standing fighter-trainer partnerships in the sport which spans over a decade of working together. Yet, if this were truly Pacquiao’s last pro boxing match, this may also be the last time he steps inside the Wild Card as an active athlete.
Roach however, feels Pacquiao will eventually renege on his word and postpone his retirement.
“[Manny] says no, he’s running for senator and it might be too much to do both but I feel he will fight, again. Yes,” said Roach.
Despite experiencing a physical decline in the past few years, Pacquiao remains a top player in the sport and is still considered the best in his division. Pacquiao’s decline first began a few years ago, particularly in 2012 when he dropped a pair of losses including a knockout loss to rival Juan Manuel Marquez.
Known for being a relentless pursuer of spectacular finishes, Pacquiao has also not been able to score a knockout victory since his triumph over Miguel Cotto in 2009.
“It’s pretty much the same but he has slowed down a little bit – I will honestly say that,” said Roach. “He’s not the same guy who fought Ricky Hatton, right now. Of course he’s older and so forth but he’s still very, very capable.”
Pacquiao defeated Hatton in May of 2009, stopping the British boxer with a single left hand in the second round of a scheduled 12.
With an April 9 date with Tim Bradley and retirement looming on the horizon, will this be Pacquiao’s last time at the Wild Card? – By Carlos Cinco
Follow this writer on Twitter: @CarlosCincoFCB