BAGUIO CITY—There’s no shortcut back to top form for Manny Pacquiao.
After watching the eight-division world champion spar with Russians Ruslan Provodnikov and Rustam Nugaev yesterday, chief trainer Freddie Roach said there’s still a long way to go for Pacquiao to be ready to defend his WBO welterweight crown against Timothy Bradley on June 9.
“We’re not yet at 50 percent, not even close,” Roach told Manila-based sportswriters at the Shape Up gym of the Cooyeesan Hotel where Team Pacquiao is billeted here.
“He’s not peaking yet, but I’m happy where we are. We have all the time.
Tangling with the burly Provodnikov for four rounds, Pacquiao unleashed solid combinations late in the second and early in the fourth round to the delight of over a hundred spectators which included his wife Jinkee, her twin sister Janet and singer Sitti.
Provodnikov, however, was no pushover, gamely trading punches and also landed some good shots on Pacquiao.
While Provodnikov was tapped to mimic Bradley’s attacking style, Nugaev was inserted for two rounds to gauge Pacquiao’s speed and sharpen his range.
Nugaev, a rangy 5-foot-10 lightweight who had sparred with Pacquiao in his preparations for Erik Morales and Oscar Larios, also acquitted himself well, trading swift punches and moving around the ring.
“He’s smarter now, with more experience and more power,” said the 29-year-old Nugaev who holds a 22-win, 6-loss, 1-draw record with 12 knockouts. “The speed is still the same.”