by Nick Giongco
Manila, Philippines – After resting his muscles for two straight days, Manny Pacquiao was back in the gym on Saturday afternoon as the Filipino star’s buildup begins the tapering off phase exactly three weeks before his clash with Brandon Rios in Macau.
uiauiaoYesterday in General Santos City, Pacquiao sparred a total of six rounds against Ireland’s Liam Vaughan and Japanese Keita Obara, marking the stage where Pacquiao starts to slow down a bit in his preparation for the rugged Rios.
“We’re about to start to lessen the work load,” said Pacquiao’s long-time cornerman Nonoy Neri, who, alongside Buboy Fernandez, share the task of whipping the 34-year-old southpaw into fiery form.
Neri and Fernandez have joined hands in taking care of Pacquiao’s conditioning following the departure of Alex Ariza, who, interestingly, is now working for Rios.
Pacquiao actually kicked off his training for Rios a bit early, proof that the comebacking puncher is determined to reclaim his old post as boxing’s pound-for-pound king.
A sensational victory over the durable Rios should catapult Pacquiao back into where he used to stand and this will enable him to look forward to megabuck matchups next year.
Being eyed to battle Pacquiao in 2014 assuming he takes care of Rios are Tim Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez and even former sparring partner Ruslan Provodnikov of Russia, who entered the scene following his smashing stoppage of Mike Alvarado weeks ago in Denver.
Top Rank chief Bob Arum said Pacquiao has requested him to book a date in April 2014 for his next fight after Rios.
“He told he wants to fight in April,” said Arum, who visited Pacquiao recently in General Santos City.
Bradley is raring to face Pacquiao for the second time to prove that he has Pacquiao’s number since most fight aficionados believe that he was the recipient of a dubious split decision the judges awarded him in June last year.
A fifth fight against Marquez could also be down the road for Pacquiao as Marquez is coming off a heartbreaking defeat to Bradley last month.
The defeat to Bradley could change Marquez’s perspective about his decision not to meet Pacquiao again.
Mexican fight scribe Erika Montoya said Marquez, 40, is on vacation with his family and has yet to announce whether he will retire or go on fighting.