Pacquiao shakes off rust from six-month layoff, begins buildup for Horn fight
Manny Pacquiao begins his buildup for the Jeff Horn fight on July 2. Wendell Alinea

IT took Manny Pacquiao only five rounds on the mitts to shake off the rust brought about by six months of ring inactivity following his last fight.

The World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion also did two rounds each on the heavy bag, double end ball and speed ball under the watchful eyes of assistant trainers Buboy Fernandez, Roger “Buboy” Fernandez and Nonoy Neri.

The three-hour training session held at the posh Elorde Gym inside the Mall of Asia commercial complex, started Pacquiao’s nine-month buildup for his coming titular showdown with Australian Jeff Horn set on July 2 in Brisbane.

The workout wasn't intense as past Pacquiao training, but it was, according to the 147-pound belt owner himself, enough to bring him back to training mode.

Enough, too, to show boxing fans he’s still at it and he’s not at all taking Horn lightly.

“Well, balik ring na tayo," the eight-division titlist told a handful of reporters on hand to cover the session at the air-conditioned arena named after the late Filipino great Gabriel “Flash” Elorde.

“Being atop the ring gives me a wonderful feeling. And dagdag na adrenalin sa katawan ko,” he said.    

“As I have been telling you, hindi tayo nagpapabaya at lalong hindi ko tini-take for granted ang makakalaban ko. To all boxing fans, lalo na sa mga kababayan natin na inabutan ng inip kung kailan ako magisimulang mag-ensayo, hunihingi ako ng pasensya.

“Alam na naman ninyo na bukod sa pagiging boksingero ay pinagkatiwalaan din ninyo akong magsilbi sa inyo bilang mambabatas na ginagampanan ko naman ng abot sa aking makakaya,” Pacquiao added.

“Naging napaka-busy namin sa senado nitong kare-resume lang ng session. Committee hearing sa umaga, session sa hapon hanggang gabi. But now medyo light na ang schedule namin kaya puwede nang seryosohin ang ensayo.

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“Huwag sana kayong magalaala, gaya nag dati, sisikapin kong muling manalo. Laban pa rin tayo. Para sa inyo pa rin ang labang ito,” he vowed.

Two more rounds each of shadow boxing and skipping rope, 10 minutes of abdominal exercises plus the traditional five-minute prayer completed the day’s work that also included 45 minutes of early morning roadwork inside the Forbes Park compound.

“Okay naman si Manny. Konting kalawang lang at konti  ring mantika sa katawan ang dapat tanggalin,” boyhood friend and former neighbor at Barangay Labangal in General Santo City-turned assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez said.

“Nabuhay si Manny sa boksing. Nasa dugo na nya yan, kaya wala akong nakikitang problema sa madali nyang recovery. One week lang at makikita ninyo, parang gusto na niyang lumaban uli,” he said, drawing concurrence from Roger Fernandez, his younger brother, and Neri.

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