Sparring partner Ghislain Maduma grateful for time spent in ring with 'special fighter' Pacquiao
Manny Pacquiao's sparring partner Ghislain Maduma gives the thumbs-up at the end of a four-round session at the Wildcard Gym. Gerry Ramos

HOLLYWOOD – Ghislain Maduma held his own against Manny Pacquiao on a rare occasion when the Wildcard gym opened its door to the media to watch the two fighters go mano-a-mano on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time).

But just as Pacquiao looked susceptible for half of the of the four-round sparring session, Maduma came to the Filipino’s defense and said they're just going through the motions exactly a week before Pacquiao battles Timothy Bradley anew at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

“Today is no sparring, we’re just having fun,” he said. “We’re just waiting for the fight now. We did everything we have to do to make Manny ready for the fight.”

Maduma was hitting Pacquiao with combinations early in the sparring that displaced the head gear of the eight-time world division champion from time to time.

But the 37-year-old ring great ended the session with a couple of hard lefts that obviously rocked the fighter from Congo.

“Yeah sure,” said Maduma when asked if Pacquiao hurt him during the entire seven-week camp that began from General Santos City and ended up in Freddie Roach’s famous sweatshop here along Vine St.

“That’s boxing. You get hurt, but you keep going. It’s a warrior’s sport. It happens.”

Holder of a 17-2 record, with 11 KOs, the boxer now based in Quebec, Canada said he was grateful to serve as main sparring partner of the Fighter of the Decade – the other being Lydell Rhodes – as he prepares for the third installment of his ring rivalry with the 32-year-old Bradley.

Maduma said Pacquiao’s work ethic is contagious.

“Working with him makes me a better athlete. His work ethic is special and something I would keep all my life even if I stop boxing,” said the 31-year-old Congolese. “If you do everything like what Manny does in boxing, you will have success for sure.”

Maduma said training with Pacquiao was his first against a superstar fighter that he wouldn’t let the opportunity slip away if and when he’s called anew to serve as the Pacman’s sparring partner.

“If they call me, I’ll be in the Philippine in 20 minutes,” he said with a big smile on his face.

“Guys like Pacquiao comes once every 30 years, every 50 years. He’s a special person, he’s a special fighter.”

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