Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ex-champ fits well as Manny new sparmate

By Abac Cordero
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Jose Luis Castillo yesterday climbed the ring as good as advertised – big, strong and just like Miguel Cotto.

The former WBC lightweight champion now fighting as a welterweight sparred three rounds with Manny Pacquiao at the Shape Up Gym in Baguio City, and based on initial observations may have earned his slot in the training camp of the Pinoy superstar.

“He sparred with Manny and he suited up well -- just what we wanted,” said Pacquiao’s adviser, Mike Koncz, who called The STAR right after the sparring session where the pound-for-pound champion also went up a few rounds with American Shawn Porter.

Koncz said Freddie Roach, the chief trainer who had aired some doubts on Castillo’s condition, was glad with how things went yesterday.

“Castillo has a very similar style with Cotto. And Freddie was very happy. Manny did three rounds with Castillo. And Castillo was good. We all think he’ll get better in the coming days,” said Koncz, who brought Castillo three weeks into training camp.

The 35-year-old Mexican, who had memorable fights with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the late Diego Corrales a few years back, arrived in Manila last Saturday, and was flown to Baguio on a private plane owned by Pacquiao’s close friend, Luis “Chavit” Singson, Sunday.

Roach just couldn’t wait to get a glimpse of Castillo.

“We really wanted to test him right away and see what he had,” said Koncz, who helps handle most of Pacquiao’s affairs on and off the ring.

He said Pacquiao, just a month left before the fight with Cotto, is getting along just fine. Two weeks ago, Roach said his ward was just 40 percent of full potential, and things must have changed in the eyes of the three-time Trainer of the Year.

“Manny is coming along very well. His timing, his power, his speed are coming along together. When he spars, he can’t get hit anymore unless he wants to get hit,” said Koncz, who also bared a slight change in schedule for Team Pacquiao.

He said Pacquiao now wants to cap his Baguio training on Oct. 23 and then travel to Manila, either by land or by air, later in the day. Then he trains at the Wild Card Gym in Parañaque the following day, and board the plane to Los Angeles in the evening.

“That’s what he wants now. We leave Baguio on Oct. 23 after training, and he trains at Wild Card the following day before leaving at night,” said Koncz, also giving everyone the assurance that all’s well within Team Pacquiao contrary to what’s being written on the Internet.

Pacquiao will train two weeks at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, and should start tapering off before he motors to Las Vegas on the Monday of fight week.

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