MANNY Pacquiao had his hands full for six rounds against two sparmates in his first competitive sparring on Tuesday (Wednesday, Manila time) at the Wild Card gym in Hollywood, California.
Pacquiao went three rounds each with old hand Ray Beltran and Russian Suhrab Shidaev, who both provided the `Pacman’ a good workout held behind the watchful eyes of Top Rank promoter Bob Arum.
There was action, "lots of it," according to Top Rank publicist Fred Sternburg. Pacquiao dished out some real solid blows, but also got his own fair share in return.
Arum later emphasized the obvious. The 33-year-old Filipino was still a little bit off his timing, but expects him to get in full shape as training gets into high gear over the next six weeks.
“They gave Manny a little bit of tough time,” said the Harvard-schooled promoter who’s been in the business for more than four decades now. “That’s OK. It’s going to be a tough (fight anyway).”
Pacquiao is set to clash with old rival Juan Manuel Marquez on December 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in the fourth installment of one of boxing's most compelling rivalries.
Trainer Freddie Roach also shared Arum's observation, but generally gave Pacquiao a passing mark.
“It was good for his first day (of sparring),” said the 52-year-old Roach. “He played a little bit with Shidaev – he won’t make that mistake again. It’s time to get serious.”
Beltran, a longtime sparmate of Pacquiao, and Shidaev – who once made sparring miserable for former light-welterweight champion Amir Khan – are expected to alternate with another Russian in Ruslan Provodnikov in whipping Pacquiao into fighting shape in his latest clash against the 39-year-old Marquez.