LOS ANGELES – Manny Pacquiao will have to rely more on his speed and movement now that he’s about to face a relatively slower fighter in Keith Thurman.
Pacquiao’s training team is making sure that the Filipino icon has fine-tuned his footwork heading into his title collision with Thurman at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas next Saturday (Sunday Manila time).
“Huwag na siyang magtagal nang more than three seconds sa loob (He should not stay more than three seconds when attacking Thurman inside),” Pacquiao’s chief trainer Buboy Fernandez told Filipino scribes Thursday here (Friday Manila time).
Fernandez earlier said he prefers Pacquiao to fight Thurman the way he did against Oscar Dela Hoya more than a decade ago.
Pacquiao kept De La Hoya confused by spinning away from trouble after each offensive onslaught, making it difficult for the latter to respond with his own attacks.
During sparring at the Wild Card Gym, Pacquiao put his footwork to the test against AB Lopez on Fernandez’s instruction.
“Zig-zag, zig-zag!” the bubbly Fernandez yelled as Pacquiao stalked Lopez throughout their four-round session.
Pacquiao would respond by side-stepping and feinting in a bid to confuse his young sparring partner and look for openings.
The 23-year-old Lopez later admitted being mesmerized by Pacquiao’s movement.
“You don't see where he's coming from. Manny's incredible with his footwork,” he told a couple of Filipino reporters after sparring.
While power is also among Pacquiao’s assets, knockouts rarely come by these days for the fighting senator, whose many recent fights have gone the distance. It was only last year when Pacquiao ended his decade-long knockout drought when he stopped Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
That’s why Pacquiao and his team are not looking to try and knock Thurman out with one homerun of a punch. It is expected that Pacquiao will attempt to tire the reigning WBA “super” welterweight champion and score a late stoppage.
And that’s where his speed and footwork should play a large part.
“Yun ang importante,” said Pacquiao.