Philippines, 12 Dec 2018
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Fortune says he’s Filipino, too

Strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune said the other day he feels at home working with an all-Filipino team in preparing Manny Pacquiao for his fight against WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur on July 15. Freddie Roach wasn’t invited to join Pacquiao’s camp so Fortune is the only foreigner in the group.

Fortune, 52, arrived from Los Angeles last Friday to train Pacquiao for Matthysse and is committed to stay with the challenger for seven weeks or until the “Fight of Champions” is done. He leaves Manila for General Santos City this weekend and will supervise Pacquiao’s start of Monday-Wednesday-Friday sparring sessions next week. Two Filipino sparmates are being tapped by Pacquiao’s head coach Buboy Fernandez and Fortune said Australian lightweight George Kambosos might be the third man in the pool.

Fortune said Pacquiao asked him to come over in a text message about a month back. “Manny and I text each other all the time about boxing and even, politics,” he said. “I don’t ask for a contract when I work with Manny because that’s how friends are. I don’t have a problem working with all Filipinos in Manny’s team. Boxing is a universal language. As far as I’m concerned, I’m Filipino by heart. I thought Manny was over-trained for his last fight against (Jeff) Horn but even in that condition, he deserved to win the decision. I had him winning by two rounds. I wasn’t in charge of Manny’s training for Horn. Now, I’m involved in a little bit of everything, including fight-planning. Buboy’s the head coach and we get along, too. In between rounds, it will be either Buboy or me talking to Manny inside the ring. Cutman will be another Filipino, Dr. Ed de la Vega from Los Angeles.”

Fortune said he’ll try to control Pacquiao from overworking. “No more three hours of training,” he said. “We want Manny to preserve his energy for the fight. We don’t want him exhausted in the gym. The fight’s good for 45 minutes. So why train for three hours every day? There’s little benefit you get if you go over 1 1/2 hours at Manny’s age. What’s also important is Manny’s happy working out. He enjoys training and that’s a big advantage. He’ll be ready for Matthysse, he’ll be fine.” Fortune said he’s making sure Pacquiao won’t burn out before facing Matthysse and the key is to limit the workouts to 1 1/2 hours of intense training in the gym without overextending himself.

Fortune said there’s no fighter like Pacquiao. “Manny’s a freak of nature,” he said. “People would kill to have his metabolism. His power hasn’t diminished. It’s a gift. Manny’s naturally heavy-handed. Even if he’s slowed down a bit, maybe even two notches lower than before, Manny’s still quicker than anyone out there in his division, certainly a lot quicker than Matthysse. Manny never has problems with his weight. He’s always underweight for his fights. He can do 135 if he wants to, just give him four weeks.”

Fortune, a former heavyweight fighter, has worked with over 30 world champions, including Pacquiao, Gerry Penalosa, Brian Viloria, James Toney, Johnny Bredahl and Israel Vazquez, as a trainer. Freddie Roach brought him to join Pacquiao’s camp in 2003 and they worked together until 2007 when a financial disagreement caused their split. Fortune returned to Pacquiao’s team in 2014, the year the Australian was diagnosed with neck and throat cancer. Fortune underwent surgery to remove the cancerous growths and is now fully recovered.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.

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