Pacquiao begins sparring ahead of Mayweather fight

Sport360 staff 07:29 19/03/2015
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Stepping it up: Manny Pacquiao.

Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has started sparring ahead of his May 2 showdown with unbeaten US rival Floyd Mayweather – but won’t be sharing a ring with Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux.

– Fight Club: Mayweather is the unanimous choice of fighters

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Pacquiao’s workout at the Wild Card Gym yesterday included five hard rounds with a pair of sparring partners. It pleased trainer Freddie Roach as well as the Asian legend, who was anxious to start swinging his fists at foes following nearly two weeks of other training.

“After 13 days of strength and conditioning and boxing drills at Wild Card plus weeks more of working out in the Philippines in February, it was great to finally put on the headgear and spar,” Pacquiao said.

“My sparring partners gave me good work today. They were perfect for testing the strategy Freddie and I have developed to beat Floyd Mayweather. I was very happy with my stamina and speed.” I

t had been rumoured that Pacquiao had recruited super bantamweight champion and defensive genius Rigondeaux to mimic Mayweather’s style.

However, Roach denied that and revealed he would be sparring two unbeaten prospects in Kenneth Simms Jr. (5-0, 2 KOs) and Rashidi Ellis (14-0, 11 KOs).

Roach was extremely pleased with Pacquiao’s display, especially since he had not fought since overwhelming Chris Algieri last year.

“Manny looked so fresh today. I’m very happy with what he showed me,” Roach said. “You couldn’t tell he had been away from the ring since the Algieri fight in November. Manny is on fire in the gym.”

Roach noted Pacquiao’s sparring had started on St Patrick’s Day while US baseball teams were involved in pre-season spring training, making his confidence for the big fight clear.

“When Manny threw out the first punch it felt like opening day of Irish Spring Training,” Roach joked. “I am confident May 2 will be celebrated for years to come as St Manny’s Day – the day he drove Mayweather out of boxing.”

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