Manny Pacquiao returns to the ring on Nov. 22. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Manny’s going to do what Manny’s going to do.
Ahead of his Nov. 22 fight at the Cotai Arena in Macau, China, WBO welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao opted to condition his notable calves on the hardwood floors of a basketball court rather than in the confines of a squared circle. Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs) pumped up his celebrity coaching status in the Philippine Basketball Association even further when “Pacman” recently jumped off the bench to play for his Kia Sorento squad.
The stunt’s potential to endanger Pacquiao’s upcoming 144-pound catchweight HBO pay-per-view bout against undefeated WBO light welterweight champion Chris Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) was a focal point of Thursday’s media call with “Pacman,” renowned hall-of-fame trainer Freddie Roach and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum.
Related: Manny Pacquiao Media Call Audio
“After he does the fight on Nov. 22, if he wants to try out for the New York Knicks, that’s fine with me,” Arum said.
Of course, Pacquiao did not think it was a big deal. The 35-year-old living legend reiterated that basketball is his favorite sport beyond the Sweet Science and serves as an enjoyable rest day workout -- one he promised Arum he would hold off on until after the fight.
“I’m always in shape, even if I don’t have a fight, because I always play basketball,” the Filipino congressman said.
Still, buzzer beating jump shots are not at the forefront of Pacquiao-Aligieri discussions. The challenger from New York enters the ring versus Pacquiao as an 8-to-1 underdog. However, Roach and the rest of the Pacquiao camp insist “Pacman” is prepared for a long, rough haul because “The King of New York” and his 72-inch reach proved he belonged by upsetting Ruslan Provodnikov in June. They are not taking Algieri lightly despite the basketball stunt.
“We brought in some big sparring partners like Mike Jones, who is a big puncher, and Manny does really well with him,” said Roach, noting that Pacquiao has dropped the Philadelphia “Machine Gun” in recent sparring sessions. “He’s doing well so far, and he shows the intensity we want. He comes up on him and finishes him.”
As a significant favorite, Pacquaio was non-committal on promising a knockout.
“We cannot control the fight,” he said. “What we’re doing right now is to get back the hunger and killer instinct that people want to see.”
Roach was more direct, adding he sees a knockout “for sure” on the horizon. The renowned trainer credited Algieiri’s movement, defense, jab and left hand output, citing the jab as Algieiri’s best weapon. However, he believes the challenger’s speed and reach will be negated because he does not have “Manny Pacquiao’s speed.”
“My first day in the gym this time we did 12 rounds, and he wasn’t even breathing,” Roach said. “We had a great start, maybe the best start we’ve ever had.”
Not looking past Algieri, who is moving up in weight for this bout, Roach concluded Pacquiao’s future may include a return to 140 pounds, where his power is more pronounced.
Arum expects the hype of Pacquiao fighting an undefeated media-friendly New Yorker like Algieri to bump pay-per-view buys close to the 750,000 mark seen against Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas. That would be a considerable jump from Pacquiao’s last Macau fight, which Arum deemed a success at 450,000 buys when considering the international trek to a new venue.
Arum spoke for the outspoken Algieri on the call: “He’s prepared to give the fight of his life against Manny. He’s very intelligent. He knows what he’s doing in the ring.”
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