Newly crowned Australian junior middleweight champion Tim Tszyu 13-0 (10) looks to be headed to the Philippines to spar with Manny Pacquiao 61-7-2 (39) ahead of the multi-division champion’s challenge to WBA welterweight titleholder Keith Thurman 29-0 (22) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on July 20.
Pacquiao, 40, has previously used another Australian boxer in lightweight contender George Kambosos Jr 16-0 (9) as his main sparring partner, but with the IBF number five and WBO number nine contender booked to fight in Athens on June 7 he will be unavailable.
Strength and condition coach Justin Fortune has tabbed the 24-year-old Tszyu as the prfect fighter to imitate Thurman’s style.
“From what I know, Tszyu’s next fight is in August so it’s a great opportunity for him to spar with Manny and learn from him,” said Fortune to the Philippine Star.
“We want to start sparring on Tuesday. If Tszyu’s not available, we’ll go with local guys. We’ll train in Manila up to when Manny leaves for L. A. on June 14 or 15 so he starts training at Wild Card on Monday, June 17.
“Our plan is for Manny to start sparring eight rounds when he gets to L. A. so he’ll work four to six rounds in Manila.”
Pacquiao’s head coach Buboy Fernandez said they would be focusing on speed and stamina in this camp.
“That’s what we need against Thurman,” Fernandez said. “Our plan is to attack Thurman, who’s flat-footed. Against (Shawn) Porter, I noticed Thurman leaned on the ropes a lot then countered. If he does that against Manny, he’ll pay for it.
“Manny’s not like Porter. He’ll make Thurman feel his punches. Thurman likes to move around but isn’t as quick as Manny.”
Fernandez said that some of Thurman’s comments during the media tour got under Pacquiao’s skin and that it will spell bad news for the 30-year-old on fight night.
“I think Manny got mad at Thurman for disrespecting the Bible during the media tour,” said Fernandez. “I haven’t seen Manny so focused on beating up an opponent since the third (Erik) Morales fight (in 2006).
“We’re studying Thurman’s style. I notice he sometimes goes southpaw. We’re prepared for that. He’s weak in the body. We know that. He’s had problems with his right elbow, left hand and shoulder. We know that, too.
“We’re coming in prepared.”