They were together for about six years, so when Manny Pacquiao reunited with strength and conditioning overseer Justin Fortune, it wasn’t as if they had to hash out a pattern of behavior, decipher signals and communication methods.
It all came back, with the rapidity of a Pacman one-two, Fortune told me in a Monday phoner from the Wild Card in LA, Freddie Roach’s gym where Coach Roach and Fortune are helping whip the Congressman into fighting trim, as they all count down to the April 12 rematch against Tim Bradley.
“Manny is much more experienced now (as opposed to the last fight they worked together, vs. Jorge Solis in 2007),” the 49-year-old Fortune told me, when I asked if Manny had changed in the last few years. “He’s still got that fast-twitch muscle, it’s very easy to train it back into him.”
Three weeks out, the intensity of the workouts are now high-grade, Fortune said, and Pacman is a most willing participant in the semi tortuous sessions. Boredom is the worst thing that can infect an athlete, the conditioning tutor said, and he sees none of that in the 35-year-old Filipino. “Manny knows there’s no reward unless he goes through the pain. But we started slower, and then we build up.”
Pacman got into solid condition at home, he said, so there was no need to get up to speed in LA, he stated. “They know what they’re doing over there,” he said, of Buboy and company.
As they head to fight week, Manny will taper down, and then be off for three days, so his body will be raring to rock come fight night. “He’ll be jonesing,” the S n G coach said. “He’ll be really primed. It’s like holding back a horse.”
“The horse” isn’t running as many hills this time around, as Roach wants him to save his legs, and Fortune is on board with that mindset. You might recall Roach and Fortune haven’t always been on the same page. A couple years back, they had a nasty split, and went back in forth in the press, over a money matter. Roach told me not long ago that the split sometimes pops up in his head, but by and large, he’s over it. “We’ve never lost with Justin Fortune,” Roach pointed out to me when I asked if they’d be able to let bygones be. “It’s easier to have friends in life than to have enemies.”
Fortune reports that camp is harmonious, and that water is under the bridge.
I shared that Mickey Duff line about there being no permanent friends, or permanent enemies, in the boxing game, and Fortune seemed to accept that bit of wisdom from the late UK dealmaker. “Me and Fred have been together since 1992,” Fortune said. “He’s my friend. We put that s–t aside, and we’re picking it up like we were together yesterday. That’s what friendship is about. I’ve known Manny since about 2002, it was walking right back into a friendship. We trust each other to get the job done. Manny is very happy in camp. That makes a helluva difference in training camp, when the fighter has a good time doing it, is having a laugh. That’s when you get a good performance, when the fighter is relaxed, they’re enjoying it.”
And what about that mantra from Roach, that we will see killer Manny on April 12? Does Fortune see a fighter on track for a stoppage win? “You never look for the KO, they come,” he said. “He’s fast and explosive, he’s got power, when he cracks with combo and hits you on the button, it’s over. He will be strong and explosive and fast and even if he had dropped a stitch, he’s still faster than anybody out there. I don’t predict outcomes, I’m superstitious, but if he follows Freddie’s gameplan I think the old aggression will definitely come back.”
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