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Pacquiao runs out of sparring mate


Wanted: Sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao.

Yes, World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao is running out of sparring mate with barely three weeks left before facing Mexican arch-rival Juan Manuel Marquez on Nov. 12 for his 147-pound crown in Las Vegas.

Jorge Linzres, Pacquiao’s partner in a three-week training in Baguio City, fought for the World Boxing Council lightweight title and did not spar Thursday and Saturday, but his replacement, Zambian Olympian Hastings Bwalya, looked short of credentials ending up with a bloodied nose and mouth when he reported for duty last week.

The African, who has an unbeaten 7-0 win-loss slate with 5 KOs and a recommendee by cutman Miguel Diaz, succumbed to the pound-for-pound king’s overwhelming speed and power and had to be replaced by regular sparring mate Ray Bneltran after the second round.

Wenchell Campos, Pacquiao’s overseer in his Palazo residential unit in Los Angeles, reporrted that Bwalya showed up at the Wild Card Gym Thursday taunting and egging Pacquiao to mix it up in the opening bell in their Pacquiao to start off their getting-to-know-you session.

Bwalya, reportedly a tough sparring partner to Floyd Mayweather in his last training camp against Sugar Shane Mosley, continued trash-talking Pacquiao and got what he asked for as the eight-division champ obliged by showing the boastful impeccable footwork and a blinding hand speed in the first round of the session.

“In the second round, Pacquiao showed the former Zambia Olympian accurate punching and power combination as he cornered his opponent with crisp body blows and a devastating uppercut that eventually bloodied his opponent's nose and mouth, Campos reported.

"Are you ok?" asked Pacquiao, as he relented on finishing off his cocky sparring partner with more punishing blows. After being trapped helplessly in the ropes, Bwalya was sent to his corner so that he could wipe off his messed up face and finished the round. Blood and vaseline was flowing out of Bwalya's nose as Pacquiao let him survive the round.

Pacquiao is in the middle of his preparations for a third fight against Marquez on Nov. 12 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has vowed to end all doubt about the outcome of his last two previous encounters as both came close and controversial. The first fight ended in a draw while the second was a split decision.

Pacquiao then sparred for another four rounds with Beltran, who made a good account of himself. Beltran gave Pacquiao a workout minus the thrash-talking, as both boxers showed respect for each other.

Bwalya returned back to action for rounds seven and eight. Still boisterous and boastful and not one who learns his lesson easily, Bwalya chuckled and taunted, even as Pacquiao smiled.

In another burst of speed and agility, the Fighting Congressman from Sarangani just wove his magic, hit his hapless opponent at will and moved in and out of counter-punches that landed a mile away.

Trainer Freddie Roach said though he will give Bwalya another chance Saturday before sending him home packing should he again fail to impress members of the coaching staff.

"One more day," said Roach, who has been Pacquiao's trainer for over a decade now, starting in 2001 when Pacquiao first teamed up with him and faced a seemingly unbeatable Lehlo Ledwaba of South Africa.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum was equally impressed with the show of firepower from Pacquiao. Also watching the action was world champion Amir Khan and Juan Manuel Lopez along with several select media personalities and TV crews from HBO's 24/7 series.

"Masaya ako dahil maganda ang ikinikilos ni brad kaya sana, tuluy-tuloy na itong magandang simula," Fernandez said. (Eddie G. Alinea-PNA)

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