WORLD Boxing Organization (WBA) welterweight champion turned senator Manny Pacquiao eased fears that he is underestimating Australian contender Jeff Horn, against whom he will be staking his 147-pound belt on July 2 at the Suncorp Arena in Brisbane.
“Me. taking Horn lightly? No way,” the three-time welterweight titlist declared by way of reacting to media reports claiming he hasn’t started training because he’s belittling his unheralded but nevertheless No. 2-ranked challenger’s capabilities.
“Twenty-two years na ako sa boksing at may mahigit nang animnapung laban pero wala pang nakapagsabing nagmaliit ako ng kakayahan ng mga nakalaban,” the 38-year-old national sports hero said in a telephone interview while resting in his Forbes Park residence.
He was supposed to start training on Thursday but opted to continue resting instead saying he has to take a respite owing to his hectic schedule as a member of the Philippine Senate, having preside over a Commission on Appointments hearing three consecutive days from Monday upon his arrival from a five-day, three-city media tour of Australia.
“The plan really was to start the gym phase of the preparations, but I thought it’s better to relax muna. Malayo pa naman ang laban, 10 weeks pa. Meaning if I start my preparations next week, walang delay. May nine weeks pa, which is still within my traditional eight-week program,” the only man to win 11 world crowns from 112 pounds to 154 pounds explained.
“Para sa ikapapanatag ng kalooban ng boxing fans, lalo na ng ating mga kababayan, like in my previous fights, hindi ako magpapabaya sa ensayo. Gaya nang dati, magiging puspusan ang paghahanda natin, “ the 'Pambanang Kamao' vowed.
"Para na rin sila makasiguro na magiging maganda ang labang darating so they will enjoy it. Reports have it that Horn is also preparing hard. Magandang balita yan sa sa fans,” he said.
“This is the reason nga kaya gusto kong complete rest before plunging into the tougher part of the program. I need this so pagdating ng seryosong ensayo, handa na tayo,” he said.
To make up for his failure to go to the gym, Pacquiao, with wife Jinkee in tow, did some road work inside Forbes Park aside from drills to recover the speed in his footwork and improved his stamina, according to Choi Garcia, the eight-division champ’s Senate executive director.
Assistant trainers, Buboy Fernanez and brother Roger “Haplas” Fernandez, echoed the benefits of their boss’ decision to momentarily dispense with the gym aspect of the build up program.
“Hindi naman kailangang magdali, plenty of time pa,” Haplas Fernandez said. “Kailangan din kasing kondisyong-kondisyon na si boss pag dumating ang ensayo. Actualy, nasa kondisyon na, panay ang laro ng basketball, halos araw-araw.”
“Besides we, too, have to fine-tune the nitty-gritty of the program and we’ll have that opportunity to do that this coming weekend,” Buboy, for his part, said.