IT is no secret that Manny Pacquiao has ran out of worthy sparring partners.
As the only eight-division world champion puts the finishing touches to his preparations for his ring return against Brandon Rios on November 24, the fury of his punches has resulted in four 'casualties.'
The overweight Marlon Alta was gone after three sparring sessions; African Fredrick Lawson decided he would rather take a fight in Africa than be at the receiving end of Pacquiao's punishing blows; South Korean Kim Win Wook chickened out, as did another Thai fighter named Sirimingkol Singwancha.
An exasperated Freddie Roach was left with only his apprentice, Liam Vaughn of Liverpool, to bear the brunt of the punches of the heavy-handed Pacquiao.
But last October 5, Dan Nazareno of San Fernando,Pampanga walked into Pacquiao's Wildcard Gym in General Santos.
With a so-so 17-10 record as a pro, all Nazareno wanted at the start was test if he could withstand the legendary power of the fighter referred to as the 'Pambanang Kamao.'
But unlike most sparring partners who are content to simply stand around and be a human punching bag to the 'Pacman,' Nazareno took advantage of the opportunity to advance his boxing skills.
After a month of mimicking Rios' crowding style and being brave enough to stand in front of Pacquiao in sparring, Dan has not only learned a lot. He also earned the love and respect of Pacquiao, who rewarded the 'Cabalen Braveheart' with his personalized silver headgear.
And as a bonus for his hard work, Pacquiao has given Nazareno the rare opportunity of fighting in the undercard of the globally televised Pacquiao vs Rios mainer on November 24 in Macau.
Nazareno will do battle with the equally hardworking Vaughn in an eight-round encounter of Pacquiao's sparring partners which could just be the biggest break both journeymen have long been waiting for.
Persistence and bravery truly have its rewards.