Philippines, 17 Jul 2019
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Calm corner, calm fighter

KUALA LUMPUR. Conditioning coach Justin Fortune said the key to keeping a fighter clam during a bout is a calm corner and that’s exactly how it was when Manny Pacquiao stopped Lucas Matthysse at 2:43 of the seventh round to wrest the WBA welterweight crown at the Axiata Arena here Sunday morning.

Fortune joined head coach Buboy Fernandez, assistant Nonoy Neri and cutman Dr. Ed de la Vega in Pacquiao’s corner. When Pacquiao lost to Jeff Horn in Brisbane last year, his cornermen were Freddie Roach, cutman Miguel Diaz, Fernandez and Fortune. A Pacquiao insider described the corner as “chaotic” during the Horn fight.

“Buboy and I work as a team,” said Fortune. “We respect each other. We wanted to keep one voice in the corner and that was Buboy’s. Throughout the fight, Buboy and I were constantly talking. Buboy did much of the talking particularly in the first few rounds. Buboy likes to talk in riddles, like he’ll call for the 105 or an attack at 12 o’clock or he’ll call somebody cheesecake. Manny and he understand each other. I thought the corner was calm for the Matthysse fight unlike in Brisbane. Calm corner, calm fighter.”

Fortune said as early as the first round, Matthysse looked lost in the ring after tasting Pacquiao’s power. “Matthysse’s weak-headed,” he said. “He has a puncher’s mentality. If you make a puncher think you’re stronger than he is, he won’t know what to do because his fight plan is just to attack and run all over you. I should know because when I fought, I was a puncher and that was my mentality.”

Fortune said in fairness, Matthysse didn’t resort to dirty tactics. “In the sixth round, he hit Manny in the balls,” said Fortune. “I would, too, if I was getting mauled. It was the smart thing to do. The referee (Kenny Bayless) called time to give Manny a rest but for Matthysse, it was also to buy time to recover. That was the only foul thing he did. As for the headbutting, that’s almost natural when you have a southpaw fighting a righthander whose style is coming forward. It was also in the sixth when Matthysse clipped Manny a few times. Manny didn’t move as much and stood in the pocket so he got hit. We kept telling Manny not to be a standing target because Matthysse is such a dangerous power puncher. Matthysse’s problem is he’s extremely slow and moves like Frankenstein.”

Fortune said Pacquiao’s training camp was near perfect. “We didn’t push Manny because we didn’t want him burning out in camp,” he said. “We told Manny if one morning, he wakes up tired and doesn’t feeling like training, that’s okay. Take the day off. Manny isn't stupid and he isn't lazy. We wanted him to enjoy training. A fighter doesn’t enjoy training when he’s bored by it. In eight weeks of training, Manny must’ve taken about eight days off. It was fine. He’s 39. We wanted him to preserve his energy, strength, stamina and power for the fight.”

Fortune, who was with Pacquiao in Manila and General Santos City for eight weeks, was joined by wife Tamara Frapasella in Kuala Lumpur. They left their 10-month-old twins in Los Angeles with Tamara’s parents and Fortune’s mother who flew in from Australia to babysit.

Photo: Justin Fortune and wife Tamara.

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

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