MANNY Pacquiao will have to start shedding off his Mr. Nice Guy image - at least inside the ring.
Aware that boxing fans are starting to doubt if he can still knock out his opponents, the future Hall of Famer has vowed to revive the ferocity he had been known for beginning in his rematch with World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Timothy Bradley this April in Las Vegas.
Not since he forced Miguel Cotto to quit in the 12th round of their WBO 147-lbs title fight in 2009 has Pacquiao won by stoppage in a career filled with some of the best KO wins in the fight game.
A lot expected him to do the same thing against Brandon Rios during his comeback fight last November, but he eventually settled for a unanimous 12-round decision.
One of Pacquiao’s trusted men Haplas Fernandez admitted the eight-time world champion became too compassionate against Rios.
“Malamang knockout talaga yun. Kita ninyo naman masyadong nahabag. Naging nice guy nga siya,” said Fernandez. “Hindi naman nawala 'yung knockout power niya. Sabi nga niya, naging nice lang talaga siya sa mga opponents niya.”
But Pacquiao said he’s determined to bring back his ring fierceness inside the ring, especially against an opponent who dealt him his first loss over the last seven years.
“Yun nga ang sinabi niya, gusto raw niya maibalik yung dati niyang sarili. Yung talagang parang halimaw sa ring. Kasi madami din siya nadidinig na request ng mga fans,” said Fernandez.
“Sa next fight, sana siguro lumabas ulit ang ganung tikas ng laro niya,” added the younger brother of Pacquiao’s assistant trainer Buboy.
Among the drills Pacquiao has been doing in the training camp are some simulated action pushing the Filipino ring icon to engage his opponent without letting down his defense.
“Yung aggressiveness niya, 'yun ang talagang ini-ensayo namin nila Buboy ngayon. Tina-try namin na kami ang papasok, kami ang unang aatake, tapos kami ang tatapos ng aksyon,” said Fernandez.
“Siyempre, priority rin namin dyan 'yung depensa niya. Baka masobrahan sa atake, masingitan ulit tayo gaya nung (Juan Manuel) Marquez fight,” said Fernandez.
“Basta, sinabi ni boss na ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy.' Kasi importante ang Bradley fight na ito,” he added.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao is expected to spend the first half of his training camp in General Santos City, where sparring sessions are expected to start by next week.
Pacquiao then departs for Los Angeles on March 15, where he resumes the rest of his rigid training at the famed Wild Card Gym in Hollywood.
Trainer Freddie Roach is expected to arrive in GenSan next week shortly after the fight of rising star Zou Shiming in Macau.