But Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz said the other day the sentiment now is he is still to reach his peak as a fighter.
“The scary part is Manny has not yet peaked,” said Koncz. “You noticed that in his past fights, he fought with reckless abandon. Now, he’s a lot more calculating. He’s become methodical and a thinking fighter. He counterpunches, defends and moves around to create openings.”
Koncz said building a legacy is important for Pacquiao but admitted the fighter is consumed with the thought of someday being introduced in the ring as “the reigning champion of the world, Congressman Manny Pacquiao.”
“At the moment, I think that’s his dream,” said Koncz. “It has nothing to do with personal ambition. Manny just believes as Congressman, he can do a lot more for his countrymen.”
Koncz said trainer Freddie Roach deserves credit for molding Pacquiao into what he is now but noted it’s the fighter, not the trainer, who wins fights.
“Freddie has done a great job with Manny but Freddie didn’t make Manny as much as Manny made Freddie,” continued Koncz. “Manny would’ve probably gotten to where he is now, as the world’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, with an 80 to 85 percent probability without Freddie. Of course, Freddie has played an important role in making it happen.”
Koncz said strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza has also played a crucial role in developing Pacquiao into a complete fighting machine.
“When Manny was training for Oscar (de la Hoya), Alex had to modify some of his programs because they weren’t working,” recalled Koncz. “He initially used plyometric exercises not suitable for fighters like doing jumping jacks with a 75-pound medicine ball. For a while, Manny couldn’t sleep because he was so hyped up with an overdose of vitamins. Manny’s team talked it over with Alex. Manny’s the boss and Alex came up with a modified program. I thought Alex did a fine job working Manny’s body into tip-top condition for (Ricky) Hatton.”
Both Arum and Roach predicted greater things to come for Pacquiao.
“I really knew that the reason Pacquiao beat De la Hoya is that Oscar couldn’t deal with the speed and explosive power,” said Arum, quoted by Claude Abrams in the100-year-old British weekly trade paper Boxing News (May 8, 2009). “It had nothing to do with Oscar being shot. But what I am watching in Pacquiao is astounding. Usually, when a fighter reaches the top, he can be good for a number of years but there’s no improvement. Pacquiao, though, gets better with every fight. His defense and reflexes are tremendous.”
Roach declined to take credit for Pacquiao’s ascendancy.
“Pacquiao’s a smart fighter,” he said. “Now he is complete. I didn’t create a monster. The monster has always been there. He’s a much better fighter than when he lost to Erik Morales. It all suddenly clicked with him and he wants to get better.”
Roach, a 49-year-old bachelor who was once a pro fighter and learned the ropes from master trainer Eddie Futch, has become almost as legendary as Pacquiao.
“Roach’s greatest achievement, of course, has been his masterful body of work in training and tutoring Manny Pacquiao,” wrote Graham Houston in Boxing Monthly magazine (March 2009). “In his eight years with Pacquiao, Roach has molded the Filipino southpaw into a superstar fighting machine who is widely considered to be the world’s best fighter.”
Abrams took notice of Pacquiao’s emergence and said, “(his career) continues to flourish with alarming – for his possible future opponents – momentum and impact.”
Among those in the queue for the chance to face Pacquiao are WBO welterweight champion Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Juan Manuel Marquez, Edwin Valero, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
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