FREDDIE Roach could hardly tell the difference between the Manny Pacquiao who last fought in November and the one who sparred in training camp for the first time on Wednesday (Manila time).
The longtime trainer of the Filipino boxing great was impressed with the way Pacquiao sparred for five rounds at the Wild Card gym in Los Angeles against Kenneth Simms and Edis Totli.
The 36-year-old reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion did three rounds with Simms and two rounds with Totli, a lightweight fighter from Finland.
“Manny looked so fresh today. I’m very happy with what he showed me,” said Roach afterwards. “You couldn’t tell he had been away from the ring since the (Chris) Algieri fight in November. Manny is on fire in the gym.”
It was the first real workout in the gym for the Pacman since scoring a lopsided decision over Chris Algieri in Macau four months ago to retain his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title.
The sparring session was held on St. Patrick’s Day, a festivity which didn’t escape the attention of Roach, who was quick to declare that close to two months from now Pacquiao Day will also be celebrated as he sees the Filipino southpaw dealing Floyd Mayweather Jr. his first career loss in the ring.
“I am confident May 2 will be celebrated for years to come as St. Manny’s Day – the day he drove Mayweather out of boxing,” said the many-time Trainer of the Year.
Pacquiao played it cool and said that after almost two weeks of mostly doing drills and strength and conditioning, he was glad to finally spar with real fighters.
“It was great to finally put on the headgear and spar,” he said. “My sparring partners gave me good work today.”