LOS ANGELES – It’s not surprising if Manny Pacquiao surrounds himself with former boxers in an ever-growing entourage.
An eight-man group led by one-time Asian Games gold medal winner Roberto Jalnaiz has been catching attention in Pacquiao’s training camp as he prepares for his May 3 (Manila time) encounter against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Fondly called ‘Team Kayote,' the red and orange-clad men are all ex-boxers who accompany the eight-time world division champion in his morning workouts and assist him in all his training needs.
As the 48-year-old Jalnaiz puts it, ‘It takes one boxer to know the needs of a fellow boxer.’
“Yun ang tulong namin kay Manny. Siyempre hindi na kami kundisyon katulad ng dati pero naibibigay namin kung ano ang sa tingin namin ay kulang sa kanya sa pag-eensayo,” said Jalnaiz, the country’s lone gold medalist in the 1990 Beijing Asiad.
It was longtime trainer and close Pacquiao pal Buboy Fernandez who helped assemble this cast of former boxers based in California together as one group, which also included the likes of brothers Rey and Eric Jamili, Orlando Villaflor, Juanito Rubillar, Aaron Melgarejo, Ernel Fontanilla, and former world title challenger Rodel Mayol.
Food and monetary allowances of the group are being shouldered by Fernandez, who was likewise responsible for giving the team its name based on the canid coyote.
Asked why the group has been called 'Team Kayote,' Jalnaiz said he doesn’t even have any clue.
“Ewan ko ba kay Buboy. Basta para daw kasi kaming mga coyote,” said the two-time Olympian, who is now based in San Pedro in Carson for four years now.
What Jalnaiz is certain of, though, is the group’s ability to help a fellow boxer train and prepare especially for a fight as big as the one against the unbeaten Mayweather.
“Malaking bagay sa amin na makatulong kay Manny maghanda sa laban niya kay Mayweather,” said the acknowledged head of the group which began helping Pacquiao since his 2014 rematch against Timothy Bradley.
Here's a video of Pacquiao leaving the Wild Card Gym after a workout: