Introducing Pacquiao conditioning coach Cecilio Flores

Ryan Songalia

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Conditioning coach Cecilio Flores came to the Philippines to chase his dream of working with Manny Pacquiao. It paid off

DREAMS COME TRUE. Cecilio Flores at the Pacman Wild Card Gym in General Santos City, Philippines. Photo by Ryan Songalia/Rappler

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Cecilio Flores came to General Santos City at his own expense with a resume’ in his hand and a dream in his heart. With no guarantee that his leap of faith would pay off, the strength and conditioning coach confronted Pacquiao and offered him services. 

For the last two weeks, Flores has worked with Pacquiao as he winds up the Philippine leg of his training camp for his rematch with WBO welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley on April 12 in Las Vegas.

“It was one of my goals in life to work with the best athletes in the world,” said Flores, a native of Los Angeles, Calif.

Flores, whose background is in health science, has been around the sports world for the past 20 years, learning from other trainers while working with boxers such as former middleweight champions Sergio Martinez and Kelly Pavlik, plus Robert Garcia-trained champs Brandon Rios, Mikey Garcia and Marcos Maidana.

When Garcia made the move to bring in former Pacquiao conditioning coach Alex Ariza, Flores decided to make the move to add one of boxing’s biggest names to his resume’.

“He’s a phenomenal athlete,” said Flores. “I’ve been here for the last two weeks analyzing him, and really seeing what kind of athlete he is. He trains hard. He’s right there with Sergio Martinez.”

When Pacquiao and camp move to Los Angeles on Saturday, Flores says he will have to split duties with Justin Fortune, who spent nearly six years working with Pacquiao before splitting in 2007. Fortune accompanied Pacquiao and head trainer Freddie Roach on the promotional press tour to announce the Bradley rematch last month.

“I know Justin had worked with him in the past and that’s all I know of him. Other than that, I’m supposed to work with him when I get back,” said Flores. “He’ll probably focus more on the strength and I’ll focus on the conditioning for this particular fight. 

“We have to keep everything cool and positive and at the end of the day it’s not about me and Justin, it’s about Manny Pacquiao. We have to work together and make him a champion again.”

So far, Flores says he’s working on adjusting to Pacquiao’s ways and habits, which include implementing his love for basketball into conditioning drills, plus overseeing his morning runs.

“He’s very particular, set in his ways and so the thing is to not to do anything to crazy. I don’t think he’d like that,” said Flores. “Of course, getting to know him, developing a relationship with him and just finding out what’s going to work best for him to capitalize on April 12. 

“It’s a little different than being in the States. Once we get to the States I’ll be able to implement more. We’ll do some plyometrics, some speed and agility.”

As the latest addition to Team Pacquiao, Flores is adjusting to working with one of the most naturally gifted, if unorthodox athletes on the planet. Things that work for the 8-division world champion and Sarangani province congressman often don’t work for other fighters. It’s something that Flores has come to understand and embrace.

“At one time he was the best fighter on the planet, and he’s still there,” said Flores. “The thing is that of course life gets in the way, there’s a lot of distractions and of course him being a congressman is a full-time job. You can’t really clock out on being a congressman, he’s a father as well. 

“It’s very interesting how he juggles everything. When you have 40-50 guests a night at his house, that’s tough man. He’s just an amazing person, an amazing heart and a phenomenal athlete. I don’t think too many people can do that.” –

Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at An archive of his work can be found at Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.

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