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Manny Pacquiao brings out the punter in Freddie Roach ahead of Keith Thurman clash

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao 61-7-2 (39) has impressed coach Freddie Roach with his fitness and conditioning as the Filipino superstar arrived in the USA to commence the second part of his training camp ahead of his WBA welterweight world title challenger to Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman 29-0 (22) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 20.

The 40-year-old former eight-division world champion stepped off his flight from the Philippines at Los Angeles’ LAX airport after a 19-hour flight and was in Roach’s famed Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood a short time later where he pushed through eight rounds of sparring with two different sparring partners.

Pacquiao has already put in five weeks of work in his native Philippines under the guidance of head coach Buboy Fernandez and strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune.

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After assessing Pacquiao’s condition, veteran coach Roach is bullish about Pacquiao’s chances against Thurman, 30, despite being the underdog.

“I haven’t made a bet in a long time, but the oddsmakers have brought me back. I’m going to make a huge score betting on Manny in this fight,” said Roach.

“Manny loves beating undefeated fighters, especially the younger ones. Heck, at this stage of the game, everyone Manny faces is younger. But that makes it fun for Manny. And when Manny is having fun, his opponents had better watch out.

“I was very pleased with Manny’s first day at Wild Card. Buboy and Justin have him in great condition for the rigors of this part of training camp.

“We were scheduled for six rounds of sparring and Manny insisted on going eight with two sparring partners. He’s running the Hollywood Hills like a deer. Nobody has the work ethic and conditioning like Manny. I can already see we are going to have to hold him back throughout camp.”

Roach admitted Thurman will have a number of advantages come fight night, but said it wasn’t anything Pacquiao couldn’t overcome.

“This is a great matchup. Thurman has youth and size. I’m sure he will come into the ring with 160 pounds behind his big right hand. Manny will be under 150,” Roach continued.

“But we will have speed and movement. Winning this fight will come down to taking chances. Manny proved in his last two fights, against [Lucas] Matthysse and [Adrien] Broner, that he has his killer instinct back. Thurman better be prepared to shoot the works.”

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