Wine, women and song, not to mention the money, power and glory.
Yes, it can all be enjoyed if you happen to be one of the world’s top boxing champions. But to get there you have to pay your dues and keep on paying them. Boxing isn’t like other sports where you practice a couple of hours a day during the season. It’s more of a lifestyle, and the more you get out of shape between fights the more you have to get into shape leading up to your next bout (see Ricky Hatton).
WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines knows all about this concept, and he’s putting the finishing touches on a grueling eight-week training camp while he prepares to take on Antonio Margarito for the vacant WBC super welterweight championship Nov. 13 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The 31-year-old boxer is working out with trainer Freddie Roach and conditioning coach Alex Ariza in Baguio City in the Philippines before heading to Los Angeles on Oct. 23 to set up camp at Roach's Wild Card Gym. However, while Pacquiao has impressed Roach up to this point, it’s a different story when it comes to his promoter Bob Arum of the U.S.
Arum watched Pacquiao work out last week and said if he went into the ring like that against Margarito he wouldn’t win the fight because his usual lightning speed wasn’t there. But he didn’t seem too concerned, saying he was confident Roach would have him in tip-top shape once the bell rings to start the fight.
Pacquiao will fight Margarito at a catch weight of 151 lbs. and it’ll be the heaviest he’s ever weighed for a bout. Ariza wanted to thicken up his boxer’s body to prepare for the naturally-bigger opponent, but it was apparent to most observers that Pacquiao’s hand speed and timing was suffering due to the added weight. He sparred 10 rounds on Oct. 19 and lost a few pounds and will he now focus on his hand speed and agility. Ariza said Pacquiao was worried about getting too big so they’ve reduced the plyometric routines in their training sessions because they add bulk and power.
To get to his present condition, Pacquiao has been getting up about 6am and then heading out for a 45-minute run. He does some sprinting, sometimes up hills and sometimes in the sand, then core exercises and stretching before going home to eat and sleep. Pacquiao has surprised a few members of his camp by suggesting swimming be added to his routine. He swallowed a mouthful of water last year and swore it was his last time in a pool.
When he gets up again he does about three hours of training in the gym, which consists of stretching, shadow boxing, plyometrics, ballistic training, weights, medicine balls, and resistance bands. He’ll then get into the ring and punch the mitts with Roach before heading off to the speed bag and then finishing up with some skipping and stretching.
Of course, as camp progresses, sparring is added to the routine. Roach has brought in some world-class sparring partners for the sessions, including Glen Tapia, Michael Medina and WBA Jr. Welterweight champion Amir Khan of England. Pacquiao’s sparred 36 rounds over the first four weeks and is scheduled to do 60 more over the next two weeks before tapering off. After the session with Roach, Ariza and his sparring partners he heads home to eat and rest.
Because the workouts are so intense Pacquiao loses weight and has to eat regularly to keep his weight up. He said he usually eats the same foods every day, which are chicken soup with endless mounds of rice along with Filipino beef broth. Ariza also has him on high-protein shakes. He usually consumes about 7,000 calories a day during training, which are piled on by eating and drinking six meals and shakes.
It’s no secret the pound-for-pound champion loves singing and playing basketball, but Roach has made him cut down on those activities as the fight draws nearer. Only time will tell if the Pac-Man’s training routine can be deemed successful or not, and that will likely be in the early morning hours of Nov. 14 in Arlington.
PinnacleSports.com has the odds of a Pacquiao win at -611 and a Margarito victory at +461