US boxer Lydell Rhodes impressed with Pacquiao’s speed, ferocity
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – American undefeated lightweight boxer Lydell Rhodes got a taste of boxing legend and Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao’s ferocity during a four-round sparring session on Tuesday afternoon.
Rhodes stepped out of the ring with a bloody nose but he vowed to perform better on the next sparring session on Thursday against the world’s lone eight-division boxing champion.
“He’s so fast. I couldn’t see where his punches came from. He threw lots of combinations and he can knock down his opponents with any of his punch,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes, who holds a 19-0 record, was hired as one of Pacquiao’s sparring mates for his ability to simulate Timothy Bradley’s fighting style.
Aside from Pacquiao’s blinding speed, what amazed Rhodes the most was the fighting congressman’s power and ring savvy.
“He’s a complete fighter. He has the speed, power and brain. He’s a flyweight who punches like a middleweight,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes admitted that Pacquiao’s hard work, discipline in training and ring achievements have inspired him a lot.
“It is a great opportunity for me to work with Manny Pacquiao. His ring achievements and by just seeing how hard he trains for the fight motivates me,” Rhodes admitted.
Rhodes revealed that he is being paid 1,000 USD per week as sparring partner of Pacquiao.
“On top of that, Coach Freddie Roach offered me a 1,500 USD bonus if I can knock down Manny Pacquiao during sparring session,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes, however, admitted that sending the Filipino ring icon to the canvass would be a tough task.
“Knocking him down is a very hard task to do right now. He fights smart and I was surprised by his strength and the level of his conditioning. I can say he’s ready if the fight is held tomorrow,” Rhodes said.
Trainer Nonoy Neri, however, was modest in describing their prized ward.
“Our Filipino ring icon is just around 70 percent ready. We need to polish his jab and enhance his speed. But what he needs right now is just a minor adjustment,” Neri said.
Neri added that Rhodes was lucky that Pacquiao did not unleash his strength and power during the sparring session.
“The Filipino ring icon was controlling his punches so as not to harm his sparring partner. But it could not be avoided that once in a while a sparring partner is hit by a solid punch. That’s why Rhodes sustained a bloody nose yesterday,” Neri explained Wednesday.
Pacquiao’s next sparring sessions will be on Thursday and Saturday.
“We spar three times a week – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Jogging is scheduled every day. When there’s no sparring, our boxer goes for a high-altitude roadwork,” Neri said.
Team Pacquiao is set to fly to United States on March 8 for the final stage of his preparation for the April 12 Bradley rematch.
There, Neri added, more sparring partners like Steve Forbes and Kendall Holt would work with the Pacman.
Meanwhile, Rhodes said he has been enjoying his stay in this city. He has even vowed to come back even after helping Pacquiao prepare for the Bradley return bout.
“I am enamored by the beauty of the place and the hospitality of the Filipino. I like the food and the weather. I will come back here even without an invitation from Manny Pacquiao,” Rhodes said.
From Green Leaf Hotel, Rhodes and his entourage usually take a tricycle in going to Acharon Sports Complex, about an hour ride from where they are billeted, to jog every morning.
Rhodes disclosed that they have been enjoying roaming around the city during their spare time to watch several sports activities and cultural presentations particularly at the oval plaza.
Rhodes’ brief sojourn coincided with the week-long celebration of the city’s 75th founding anniversary set to culminate on February 27.
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