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Early rounds to settle Manny’s fight


PhilBoxing.com





MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons is convinced the early rounds will determine the outcome of the WBA welterweight unification title showdown between rival champions Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on July 20 with the expectation that the fight won’t go the distance.


“The best thing about Thurman is his athleticism,” said Gibbons in a phone interview yesterday. “He’s not a lights-out puncher who can take you out with one shot. He’s a smart guy. He likes to move and boxes a lot and I think it’s because he doesn’t take a good punch to the head or body. The way I see it, if Thurman fights like he did against (Josesito) Lopez (last January), he’s getting knocked out.”

Gibbons said Thurman isn’t fighting an ordinary 40-year-old boxer. “This is not just about a 40-year-old fighting a 30-year-old,” he said. “If Thurman is athletic, so is the Senator who’s an eight-division world champion and super athletic himself. Thurman is fighting a non-conventional southpaw. The Senator is not a normal guy. There’s no way Thurman can prepare for the Senator with a fight-alike sparmate because nobody is like the Senator. The first three rounds will give us an idea of how the fight ends, if it goes the distance or not.”

Pacquiao was scheduled to leave Manila for Los Angeles last night. He was booked to spar with WBO Oriental superfeatherweight champion Jaber Zayani of France and Zamboanga del Sur superfeatherweight Jestoni Autida at the Elorde Gym near MOA yesterday afternoon. Zayani, 28, sparred three rounds with Pacquiao last Tuesday while Autida, 28, did two last Thursday. Another sparring partner Tim Tszyu of Australia sparred over 20 rounds in two weeks and went back to Sydney last Thursday.

Zayani totes a 16-0 record, with 9 KOs. Gibbons said he was already in Manila and volunteered his services. Zayani turned pro in Canada in 2012 then had seven fights in France before seeing action in the US, back to France, Mexico, twice in Thailand and in his last two outings, in the Philippines. Last April, he stopped Ciso Morales in one round in Iligan City. “No idea who brought him in,” said Gibbons, “but he gets around.” Autida is a journeyman with an 11-11 record, including 5 KOs. Pacquiao went six rounds of sparring last Thursday and will ramp up to eight to 10 to 12 in L. A. before tapering off.

“Tim’s a superwelterweight and walks around weighing about 165,” said Gibbons. “I don’t know if he’ll join us in L. A. but he’s back in Australia. In L. A., we’ll use sparmates who are quicker, taller and faster. So we’re getting guys who aren’t as big as Tim.” In line to spar with Pacquiao in L. A. are 5-9 welterweight Abie Lopez, 5-7 welterweight Arnold Gonzalez and 5-7 former interim WBA featherweight champion Jesus Rojas of Puerto Rico. Gonzalez was in Pacquiao’s training camp for the Adrien Broner fight.

Gibbons laughed off Top Rank CEO Bob Arum’s recent warning that Pacquiao, at 40, may be risking brain damage by continuing to fight. “I read Bob’s analysis on the Senator’s cranium and I’m wondering if he’s become a doctor,” said Gibbons. “All I know is last January, the Senator fought Broner who was in awesome condition. In the first three rounds, Broner made a fight of it. But once Broner tasted the Senator’s power, it was over. Broner fought the rest of the way to survive, not to win. That’s the thing about fighting the Senator. Whatever you might have in your mind as a fight plan goes out the window once you get hit. What’s in your head isn’t going to get done if the body doesn’t cooperate.”


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


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