May 27, 2017 02:59 AM PST
SINCE 2007

Can Manny still pull the trigger?

Gameplan
By NICHOLAS VON WETTBERG

Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao said that training camp “was excellent” and declared himself “in tip-top shape” heading into Saturday’s rematch with welterweight world champion Timothy Bradley at the Las Vegas MGM Grand Garden Arena.



According to Freddie Roach, the team came off their best week of camp.

The Hall of Fame trainer said the fight plan has been put into place, and that his ward is extra motivated to avenge the defeat he suffered to the Southern Californian via a pair of mysterious scorecards on June 9, 2012. The controversial loss ended the Pinoy idol’s 15-fight winning streak.

“Now we can…look forward to maintaining what we’ve gained from the 10-week job,” Roach said.

Pacquiao ended his sparring sessions on Monday and made his way along with a caravan of tour buses to Las Vegas, where he continued to work on improving his timing, as well as maintaining his strength and conditioning.

There is no room for error.

“He’ll be doing a lot more of mitts to establish the distance he ought to be with his opponent at any given moment of the fight,” Roach said earlier this week.“Manny still has to do a little bit of roadwork to further prove his condition and stamina.”

Team Pacquiao believes that similar to what happened in the first fight, Bradley will avoid moving forward and has no intentions of trading punches with the southpaw with world championship titles in eight different weight divisions.

Each and every point matters in this fight. A knockdown could be the difference in the outcome, like in the second fight between he and Juan Manuel Marquez in June 2008.

Manny must be prepared to mix it up in the trenches, or use his speed and strength to bob and weave, land combinations from all angles and spin around like a Filipino whirling dervish.

Before relocating to Hollywood’s Wild Card Gym for the final four weeks of preparation, the former pound-for-pound best spent his first six weeks of training at his private gym in General Santos City, Philippines.

It might be a bit disturbing for some to hear but Manny appears to be more physically fit than he has been in a long time. Why now, all of a sudden?

Frankly, because never has there been a sense of urgency like this. His career is at a crossroads. Not only that, but his manhood has been challenged.

And we’re talking about a serious competitor here.

He made his mark as a knockout artist with an obscene amount of stoppages for a marquee fighter and Bradley has made it a point to say that his opponent is still a very good boxer but no longer has it when it comes to pulling the trigger. Oh, the gall.

Sounds similar to when Roach said the same thing to Oscar De La Hoya leading up to the Dream Match in December 2008. Freddie, however, at the time, knew Oscar was shot, but Tim just like the way it sounds coming out of his mouth. He doesn’t have a clue if that really is the case.

As a result of Pacquiao being in peak physical shape, he is more relaxed and has been less distracted during camp than in recent memory. On a scale of one to ten I’d give it an overall score of nine, which is about as good as it gets right about now.

My prediction is an ultra-close fight that in the early rounds could go either way but as it progresses favors a Pacquiao stoppage in the tenth round.