LAS VEGAS—Feeling light and easy, Manny Pacquiao saw no need to do his early morning run on Saturday.
Instead, he opted to give his body a break, eating a late breakfast and relaxing in bed at his suite at the hotel of Mandalay Bay.
In the afternoon, however, Pacquiao went to the Top Rank Gym for a light workout to maintain his tiptop condition.
Trainer Freddie Roach, knowing his prized ward was primed for war, ordered Pacquiao to do a fraction of what he did during his six-week training at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood.
From 12 rounds, Pacquiao’s mitt sessions went down to two while his other routines, like shadow boxing, skipping ropes and abdominal exercises, were also reduced to a minimum.
It was enough to get Pacquiao’s adrenalin flowing as he returned to THEhotel to catch some sleep. Feeling hungry when he woke up at 5 p.m., he ate again.
“It’s okay (not to do roadwork),” Pacquiao told Manila-based sportswriters. “I’m feeling light and need to rest.”
Pacquiao said dinner, consisting of chicken and adobong kangkong, sinigang na tuna, fried salmon and bananas, was his third meal of the day.
“I’ll still eat before the weigh-in (Friday afternoon) as we intend to come in at 146 or 147 pounds,” he said.
Told that Marquez planned to weigh in at 142-143 pounds, Pacquiao said: “Why did he bulk up if he’s coming in light? It doesn’t make sense.”
With Jinkee around, a Bible study was held at the spacious living room of their 60th floor suite.
The pastors, including Jeric Soriano, who was Pacquiao’s spiritual adviser when he fought the American Timothy Bradley last June, were also invited for dinner. They stayed at the dining table for a while, sharing the words of God with Pacquiao and Jinkee.
The gathering lasted more than an hour, broken only when two-time world champion Gerry Peñalosa, one of Pacquiao’s closest friends, entered the dining area and asked Pacquiao to pose for pictures with two friends.
Soon, the eight-division world champion stood up and headed for the door of their luxurious room. It was nearly 9 p.m., way past the 8 p.m. curfew for visitors imposed by Pacquiao’s security detail that included Fil-Ams from the Los Angeles Police Department.
Makings of a classic
Also around were Pacquiao’s father Rosauro and younger brother Roel, who is running for congressman of South Cotabato’s first district.
Among the horde who sneaked in Friday was former PBA MVP Kenneth Duremdes, former world boxing champion Ana Julaton and Danny Javier of the Apo Hiking Society.
Saturday’s non-title welterweight bout has all the makings of a classic as the two fighters prepare for almost certainly their final meeting in the ring.
Their previous three encounters were gripping, all-action affairs between probably the greatest offensive fighter of his generation and one of the best counter-punchers in recent memory.
A lot to prove
Adding further spice to the mix is that Pacquiao and Marquez have a lot to prove when they square up for their heavily anticipated showdown.
While the 33-year-old Pacquiao is eager to show that his powers have not diminished with age after a below-par performance and a stunning upset in his last two bouts, Marquez is determined to set the record straight against the Filipino southpaw.
Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs) has yet to beat Pacquiao, having lost twice and drawn once, but the 39-year-old Mexican firmly believes he was “robbed” of three wins simply because of the judges’ verdict.
When they last met in November 2011, Pacquiao narrowly retained his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title with a controversial majority decision that was greeted by loud booing from disgruntled Marquez fans. The Filipino earned the verdict from two of the three judges while the third ruled the bout had ended level at 114-114.
All in the past
“It’s hard when you’re fighting your rival and the three judges, too,” a fuming Marquez said at the time, before adding that he was contemplating retirement because of the outcome.
“I was robbed … We won with clearer punches. I am frustrated right now, very frustrated.”
However, that is all now in the past and Pacquiao is just as eager to win, if only to vindicate his record against Marquez, a three-division world champion.
The Filipino, who is also eager to redeem himself after suffering a defeat in his most recent fight to Bradley, is tired of Marquez blaming his failure to win on biased judging.
Most difficult opponent
“I am giving him a chance to prove he can win the fight … So it is very important for me to win this fight,” said Pacquiao, who has a career record of 54-4-2 with 38 knockouts and who lost his most recent fight on a hotly disputed split decision to Bradley in June.
Pacquiao has won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions and Roach has been delighted by his fighter’s preparation for the bout.
“He is where I want him to be right now. His focus is where it has not been for some time,” the bespectacled Roach said. He added that Marquez had unquestionably proved to be the Filipino’s most difficult opponent.
“A 100 percent yes,” Roach told Reuters. “Manny loves it when guys come to him and they’re aggressive.
“Marquez is a counter-puncher and we’re probably going to have to go to him to make the fight happen. It’s a little harder for Manny to do that, so it’s the most difficult style for us.”
‘Best in the world’
Pacquiao and Marquez have fought a total of 36 rounds. The Mexican feels he will finally break through with a victory this time—and he admits this is important to him.
“Pacquiao continues to be the best in the world and to finally get a win over him would make me very happy,” he said.
Pacquiao said he was the aggressor in all the fights, landing more punches, so those close decisions rightly went to him.
He sees this fight as a chance to provide definitive proof as to who is the better fighter. He also wants to avoid suffering back-to-back losses for the first time in his 17-year career.
“PacMan” could have gone for a rematch against Bradley but in the end his camp figured another Marquez fight would sell more tickets. Besides, Pacquiao knows that much of his ring legacy will come from his fights with Marquez.
Much has been made of Marquez’s bulkier physique for this fight. Marquez’s strength and conditioning coach is Angel Heredia Hernandez, who was involved in the steroid scandal that eventually resulted in disgraced American athlete Marion Jones going to prison.
Roach questioned whether Marquez was using performance-enhancing drugs.
“Freddie Roach is saying I’ve been taking steroids. He’s way off base,” Marquez told the Los Angeles Times. “I say, ‘Let’s do the test right now.’” With reports from AFP