By Abac Cordero
MANILA, Philippines - Manny Pacquiao marked Day One of his sparring sessions yesterday, did three rounds with Shawn Porter and found the young American light-middleweight a tough nut to crack at the Shape Up Gym in Baguio City.
Pacquiao found the 21-year-old Porter, a Golden Gloves champion in 1997, a little too heavy and a little too strong than expected. But give the Filipino icon a few more days of sparring and things will definitely turn around.
“It was a very good sparring,” said Team Pacquiao’s Mike Koncz.
“Shawn has got the power and although obviously he’s not of the same skill level as Manny, he can punch. And that’s good because that would keep Manny’s defense up,” said the Canadian adviser of Pacquiao.
“Manny has got to keep his defense because this kid can punch,” said Koncz of Porter who can hurt his opponents with left hooks to the body, a shot that Miguel Cotto should have plenty of when he faces Pacquiao on Nov. 14.
Pacquiao, as usual, had wanted a couple of extra rounds, and would have called in the other sparring partner on tap, Urbano Antillon, up on the ring. But this time, chief trainer Freddie Roach had his way in holding him back.
“Manny was asking for a couple more rounds but Freddie said, ‘No,’” Koncz told The STAR. He added that given a few more rounds, Pacquiao will definitely be all over Porter or anyone else thrown at him in sparring.
“In a few weeks this kid won’t be able to find Manny.”
Pacquiao was out of the gym by 3 p.m. and from there he went straight up to his hotel room for a short nap.
Porter, undefeated in 10 fights, with six knockout wins coming in the first round, raised some eyebrows when he climbed the ring to spar with Manny. He seemed too big for Pacquiao, who will fight Cotto at 145 lb.
“He was much bigger but that’s good because he got to push Manny around. I also think he’s the heaviest puncher Manny has ever sparred with. But a few more sessions and I don’t think he can last with Manny,” said Koncz.
The doors to the boxing gym where Pacquiao will train for the next four weeks were closed to the media and fans yesterday, particularly since it was the first day of sparring for the reigning pound-for-pound champion.
On Thursday, however, Pacquiao will let them in when he holds a media workout. His promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, will be around on that day, and will spend the weekend in Baguio to see how things are going.