EXPECT to see the Manny Pacquiao of old - not an old Pacquiao - when he climbs the ring against unbeaten American Chris Algieri in their world title fight in Macau on November 23.
Thanks to a rigid training camp that was free from the usual distractions, assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez said the eight-division world champion is fitter and sharper than he has ever been since the sensational technical knockout win over the great Oscar De La Hoya in 2008.
So much so that with still 10 days to go before his WBO welterweight title defense against Algieri, Pacquiao, Fernandez bared, is already at a walking weight of 142 - two pounds less than the catch weight of 144 pounds - and ready to launch an all-out attack anchored on his blinding speed.
“Nasa 142 pounds na lang si Congressman Manny ngayon. Talagang sinadya namin na ganun kasi gusto naming ma-maintain yung speed niya sa laban (Congressman Manny is just around 142 pounds. We really want his weight down because we want to put premium on speed come fight night)," said Fernandez.
“Wala tayong problema sa timbang, 144 pounds naman 'yung laban. Kahit nga 140 pounds pa kaya pa niya eh. Sa actual weigh-in baka nasa 143 o 144 na siya (We’ll have no problem with the weight. The fight is pegged at 144 pounds. Even if the fight is at 140 pounds, we can take it. At actual weigh-in, he might be around 143 or 144)."
Fernandez revealed that Pacquiao will likely climb the ring at around 147 or 148 pounds, just as the team’s conditioning team led by Justin Fortune had planned.
Asked if they won’t be at the disadvantage come fight time, especially if the 5-foot-10 Algieri decides to fight at around 154 pounds, Fernandez said heavier is better as far as the American opponent is concerned.
“Mas maganda nga 'yung magpabigat siya after ng timbangan. Kasi babagal siya 'nun (It will be good for us if he decides to come in heavier come fight night)," Fernandez said.
But can an underweight Pacquiao stop an Algieri who by fight night should technically be a light middleweight, Fernandez gave a short but sharp response.
“Hindi natin masabi yun, pero kapag pumikit siya … atin na ang laban (We can’t predict that, but if he winks… the fight will be ours)," Pacquiao's childhood pal said.
Listen to podcast of full interview with Buboy Fernandez:
The longtime Pacquiao confidante is also happy to share that Pacquiao is displaying renewed speed and strength during his sparring sessions.
“Bumalik na talaga yung dating speed niya. 'Yung foot work niya, andun pa rin. Yung speed talaga bumalik. 'Yung lakas naman niya laging andyan 'yan eh (His speed is truly back. It’s back. His foot work is still there, but the speed is back. His power has always been there)," he said.
Fernandez said Pacquiao is so focused in training that their buildup for the Algieri fight is reminiscent of how they prepared prior to the eighth-round TKO win over De La Hoya in 2008.
“Yung focus ng preparation namin ngayon parang nung Dela Hoya (Pacquiao's focus in training now is much like when we prepared for Dela Hoya)," the cornerman bared, pointing to the lack of distraction in training camp.
In terms of strategy, Fernandez said the fight plan will be similar to how they engaged tall, rangy fighters like Antonio Margarito, who Pacquiao stopped in the 12th round in 2010, and Erik Morales, who the Filipino hero knocked out twice in their trilogy.
“Pinaghalo namin yung preparation sa paghahanda sa Margarito at Morales (In preparing for this fight, we combined our tactics for the Margarito and Morales fights,” while dismissing notions that the 'Pacman' is over the hill.
"Hindi pa laos si Manny. Bata pa siya. Kaya pang lumaban niyan hanggang 40. (Manny is not yet old. He can still fight til the age of 40)."
“Kasi makikita mo sa isang boksingero kung tinatamad na siya sa katawan niya. Pero sa ipinapakitang galaw ngayon ng ating fighting congressman, hindi sa pagmamalaki, talagang andun at andun pa (You can see in a boxer's body language if he no longer has the will. But with how he has been training, not to brag about it, his game is still there)," Fernandez said.
Pacquiao logged a total of 12 rounds of sparring this week, and he’ll have another eight rounds on Monday to complete a total of 128 rounds before he and his team fly to Macau onboard two chartered Air Asia flights from Gensan.