MENTAL CALISTHENICS FOR PACMAN: WHILE the whole boxing world awaits his ring return, eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao is making sure he is fully armed when he goes to battle against Brandon Rios in Macau on November 24.
Not wanting to overtrain, which Pacquiao has done one too many times in the past, the man referred to as the Pambansang Kamao is taking his time in getting back into boxing shape this time.
In terms of physical preparations, there is not much we can still ask from Manny, who plays hoops into the unholy hours to maintain his cardio endurance. Two weeks ago he started light runs in the morning. He goes full blast on October 1, exactly eight weeks before his much-awaited ring return.
Just recently, Pacquiao added a new member to his ever-growing entourage in the person of Eugene Torre, Asia's first chess grandmaster.
Though he has no official function in the chaotic system of Manny Pacquiao's team of malcontents, the Philippine sports icon's role is as important if Manny hopes to hurdle his ring return with flying colors.
Torre acts as Pacquiao's chess tutor, but he also hopes the world boxing icon can take some of the lessons he learns from the chessboard into the boxing ring.
"Gusto ko lang maging tough pa siya mentally," said Torre, the Philippines' Board One player in 18 World Chess Olympiads, said of the 'Pacman,' a longtime chess enthusiast.
Torre is also a witness of how competitive Pacquiao is in whatever he does.
"Sa tapang wala ka ng mahihingi pa. Kahit nga titulado ang kaharap sa board ay ayaw patalo ni Manny. Alam mo talagang may heart of a fighting champion," Torre said.
Step by step, Torre is now trying to introduce strategy into Manny's fighter psyche.
"Sa chess, gaya ng lahat ng bagay sa buhay, mahalaga ang preparasyon. Sana makita ni Manny ito. Mas maganda kasi pahinugin mo muna yun position mo bago ang final blow," Torre said.