Philippines, 28 Nov 2022
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Pacquiao Finds New Boxing Elixir; Fight Against Vargas Most Difficult

MANILA -- THERE are times when we have to drag ourselves to wake up in the morning to start the day off heading out to work. Monotonous, drudging and uneventful, the daily repetition coupled by the morning rush hour traffic, could truly test one's will, not to mention aching bodies...

Not on a typical Manny Pacquiao day:

On his second session of sparring against an unbeaten prospect and a local veteran Thursday night, Pacquiao was a new kind of an elemental fighter. He was virtually untouched, calculating, dangerous but forgiving enough not to punish his partners in the ring. Not this early yet.

But what drives the NEW "Pacman," who, despite being rich, famous, well-loved, admired, powerful and more, has found a resurgence of sorts?

He starts his day jogging, sometimes even drenched by the light drizzle, characteristic of Manila's September mornings. When monsoon rains come a-pouring, he has to improvise or call off training sessions in the morning and double-up in the afternoon.

He probably has more offices and work loads than most of us combined and despite having only 24 hours a day to fit everything in, he has thus far successfully juggled everything with much success.

He used to be a full-time boxer, period, and part-time this or part-time that. Now, he is a full-time Senator of the Philippines, a full-time father and a full-time servant of God.

His fight against welterweight champion Jessie Vargas of the United States is no picnic either and has turned out to be one of the most difficult. In terms of sacrificing for a fight, this one looks like a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle and a nightmare for his appointments secretary. Doing things simultaneously has made this fight hard and taxing. Sometimes, he finishes training sessions at past 10 PM, signs autographs for fans who keep on queueing up, before he could step into a makeshift dining table inside the gym. His entourage would still have to weave through traffic and call it a day before midnight, preparing once again for the next day, and the next...

He is no longer young. At 37, he could very well be considered as the grand daddy of the sport. In terms of boxing "mileage," he is an overworked veteran of 66 fights, fighting at an average of three fights a year going into his 22nd year of boxing. Imagine driving a 2003 model sedan with a 400,000 kilometer mileage on your engine: That could very well be a good comparison to Pacquiao's condition, including the bumps and dents and cuts, and yes, days in the repair shop.

Pacquiao has just recently gone under the knife, repairing a torn rotator cuff only last year, right after he fought Floyd Mayweather using virtually one effective left hand with no significant right hook or a jab to boot.

Always looking for an exciting fight, his style of boxing has endeared him to fans the world over. By opting to make the match into your phone-booth type, end-of-your-seat and nail-biting affair, he would go on a prowl and mix it up, go for the kill, rather than get into a boring encounter directly the opposite of Mr. Defensive Fighter of the Year's style.

More or less, he has sparred with more than 400 boxers of all shapes and sizes and styles and nationalities: bigger, faster, stronger, taller, smaller, slugger, amateurish, wild, disrespectful, ugly, stinky and hairy, among many others. Throughout his career, his boxing intelligence quotient has continued to grow immensely so, learning and maturing in every battle.

He took the Vargas fight because of his love for the sport and that the American fighter has taken his old WBO welterweight belt. Pacquiao believes he can still give something to the sport.

"I think I still have more to show (in the sport). I feel great, energized and inspired," said Pacquiao, Friday after hitting the mitts with long-time trainer Freddie Roach, who just came in three days ago from the United States.

His was an understatement, if one had to ask Roach or assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez, who have directly felt the brute power of Pacquiao's punches. Both Roach and Fernandez agree: Pacquiao has upped the oomph in his punches. "Tumatagos sa mitts, manginginig ang buong katawan mo. Hindi ganyan ang lakas niya dati," said Fernandez, who has been with Pacquiao for the longest time as kids roaming in the streets of General Santos City.

Personally, having been with the Fighting Senator from Sarangani province for more than a decade and a half, the decibels of his gloves meeting the heavy punching bag has truly gone a notch up. And this is the same guy, the Senator, who has wore a suit, a different wardrobe just a few hours ago.

During one of those "hard" training days, he had to go jogging at 10 AM because the rains came earlier. He skipped noontime siesta in order to catch a Senate session involving an apparent witness into EJKs or extra-judicial killings. On those days, he would try his best to gather, interpolate and search for the truth from an apparent confessed mass murderer and get kudos for not just stepping into the plate but one who has come out slugging. On other days, he would join other Senate committees wherein he is not just a member, but a very active Senator.

He finishes the day in secret, reading the bible before he sleeps at night, a 180-degree turnaround from his being carefree. This time, his days, divided into hours and minutes, are spent well. Quality time for a doting father and a public servant as well as a servant of God.

Pacquiao has not changed much since. He is still that young kid eager to show his new toy to everyone. His demeanor is now more subdued, as he shows off his new gadgets: a pair of fists, exclusive and limited edition, probably one of the most pricey pair of fists available out there.

At the end of the day, Pacquiao does find joy and satisfaction in serving his fans, his constituents and his God, a newfound elixir that has brought his career to new highs.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Winchell Campos.

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