Pacquiao ready for Baguio grind

By Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 17 2012 09:48 AM | Updated as of Apr 17 2012 05:48 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Unless he is called by the President to Malacañang, Manny Pacquiao will take the five-hour drive to Baguio City today for the start of his heavy training.

"Bukas (tomorrow)," said Pacquiao when asked about the trip to the cool City of Pines where his chief trainer, Freddie Roach, has been anxiously waiting for him.

Pacquiao said he hasn't spoken seriously to Roach, now training Amir Khan in Baguio, regarding their strategy for the June 9 fight with Timothy Bradley.

Based on the original plan, Pacquiao was to start his training in Baguio yesterday. But because of his tight schedule, he had to reschedule everything.

Pacquiao was to take his oath under the political party of Vice President Jejomar Binay last night, a move that could mean that things are no longer rosy between the boxing icon and the President.

Yesterday afternoon, Pacquiao showed up at the MP Tower in Manila, and worked out for two hours with Buboy Fernandez in the air-conditioned gym.

He pounded the mitts for eight rounds non-stop, and spent time with the heavy bag, speed ball and double-end bag. He did crunches at the center of the ring.

"Ayos ba (Okay?)," the reigning WBO welterweight champion asked a couple of scribes during a brief lull in training.

Pacquiao pounded the mitts so hard Fernandez's hands shook the moment he took them off.

"Grabe. Hindi nawala ang lakas (He hasn't lost the power)," said Fernandez, who also made sure Pacquiao was at the gym in General Santos City since last week.

Pacquiao had wanted for more time inside the ring, but it was Fernandez who insisted that they call it a day.

"Bugbog (Beat up)," said Pacquiao of Fernandez as he shadow-boxed along the ropes.

The narrow street leading to the gym was silent and practically empty until Pacquiao drove in aboard his black Navigator, with a police escort. Word spread quickly about his arrival.

In just a couple of minutes, his fans had gathered around the ring, and eagerly watched him train. They couldn't help but clap as Pacquiao unleashed his powerful combinations.

Yes, Pacquiao looked sharp.

But certainly not as sharp as Roach wants him to be.