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Manny starts sparring

The most crucial stage of Manny Pacquiao’s preparation kicks off today with the start of his thrice-a-week sparring session at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.

Pacquiao is entering the third week of training for his megabuck matchup with Floyd Mayweather set May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Chief trainer Freddie Roach has lined a pack of young lions for Pacquiao to feast on, a far cry from the old guys that Mayweather has brought to his training headquarters in Las Vegas.

Kenneth Sims of Illinois and Rashidi Ellis of Massachusetts, both unbeaten and 21 years old, are among the sparmates Roach has imported to lend a hand to Pacquiao.

Mayweather beat Pacquiao to the punch as he began sparring as early as last week.

A few days ago, Mayweather even posted a photo of himself doing old school training methods, like wood chopping.

Joining the 38-year-old Mayweather in a gym that he owns are former foes Zab Judah and DeMarcus Corley, southpaw fighters who gave him trouble when they fought many years ago.

Judah, 37, wasn’t credited for scoring a knockdown against Mayweather in their 2006 slugfest, while Corley, 40, had the slick Detroit native covering up two years earlier.

During sparring days (Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday), Pacquiao holds his morning run at the Pan Pacific Park in La Brea.

But during non-sparring days (Monday-Wednesday-Friday), the 36-year-old fighting congressman makes an ascent to Griffith Park.