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MANILA, Philippines – After almost a year-long break, 8 division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao is eager to get back on the ring to prove he is still the best.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.
MANNY PACQUIAO, WORLD CHAMPION BOXER: Napaka important nitong fight na ito dahil matagal tayong hindi lumaban, almost one year this coming Decemeber so namiss ng mga tao yung Manny Pacquiao. Second, kailangan ko i-prove na kaya ko pang lumaban. (This fight is very important because we didn’t fight for a long time, almost one year this coming December, so the people have missed Manny Pacquiao. Second, I need to prove that I can still fight.)
Manny Pacquiao is a man on a mission.
He has about 5 weeks left before his November 24 fight against Brandon Rios, and he isn’t wasting any time.
Its 5 in the morning and Pacquiao is wide awake.
Running with him is his whole team, including his buddy PacMan.
Just a few hours later, its back in the gym.
Pacquiao starts with 7 rounds of sparring, then attacks the punching bag and the speedball, before some jump rope, shadow boxing, and more footwork exercise.
His sparring partners– professional boxers themselves — are blown away.
LIAM VAUGHAN, SPARRING PARTNER: He’s got fast feet and fast hands you know. And he works so hard, he runs, everything, he’s good, he’s in great condition already.
This time around, the atmosphere in camp is different.
It’s fun, but serious. There’s a sense of urgency that excites those around Pacquiao.
They say they haven’t seen him this focused in years.
And after two consecutive losses, its exactly what they want him to be.
GERRY PENALOSA, PACQUIAO ADVISOR: Ngayon nakikita ko bumalik yung confidence niya kaya maganda, at yung speed, power niya, andun. Masaya, masaya. (Now I’m seeing his confidence has returned so it’s good, and his speed, his power, its there. I’m happy.)
Pacquiao needs to win, and win convincingly.
Some analysts say Pacquiao has lost his spark and he is determined to prove them wrong.
Team Pacquiao wants a knockout, but Rios, who has 31 wins and 1 loss on his record, will be a challenge.
Pacquiao is unfazed.
MANNY PACQUIAO, WORLD CHAMPION BOXER: Walang kaba kung hindi excited ang nararamdaman. Katulad ng ginagawa ko ngayon, matagal akong, uhaw ako sa training at sa fight. (I’m not nervous but excited. Now for instance, I’m hungry to train and to fight.)
For now, Pacquiao says there’s only one thing on his mind: winning.
Politics has taken a backseat to training, giving hope to his camp that perhaps the old Pacquiao has returned.
NATASHYA GUTIERREZ, REPORTING: Runs, sparring, drills. Pacquiao himself knows how important the upcoming fight is and vows he’s willing to put in what it takes to get back on top.
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Manila.