By NICK GIONGCO
Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach reunited with Manny Pacquiao yesterday in General Santos as the dynamic duo laid the groundwork for the rematch with Tim Bradley scheduled April 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Roach arrived in the country Sunday night from Macau and flew to General Santos yesterday morning and they immediately hit it off by going 13 rounds with the punch mitts.
Pacquiao’s buildup steps up a notch today when he kicks off the sparring session against unbeaten US puncher Lydell Rhodes, accoridng to Roach.
Pacquiao, who scored a convincing decision win over Brandon Rios in his last fight in Macau late last year, will probably spar for a few rounds, perhaps three or four, to get the hang of it.
Pacquiao has actually been working out the past two weeks under the watchful eyes of local trainers Buboy Fernandez and Nonoy Neri knowing that Roach will be showing up at the gym after his work with Chinese Olympic legend Zou Shiming in Macau over the weekend.
It could not be determined when exactly Pacquiao and Roach will head to the Wild Card in Hollywood and Roach said they can afford to stay until the third week of March.
“We can do four weeks here and three weeks in Los Angeles and that would be fine,” said Roach after the workout although Top Rank big boss Bob Arum wants them to begin the Wild Card phase of the training by the second week of March to coincide with the showing of the first episode of the HBO 24/7 series.
“But it depends on Manny,” said Roach, who celebrates his 54th birthday on March 5.
If Pacquiao decides to extend his training in General Santos City, Roach said he will bring in another sparmate, veteran Steve Forbes.
Forbes fought Oscar Dela Hoya in 2008 and Roach said Forbes, who turns 37 tomorrow, is a mirror-image of Bradley, style wise.
Forbes is on standby, said Roach, and is ready to fly to Manila at a moment’s notice.
Pacquiao is a slim 2-1 favorite to exact vengeance against Bradley, who was awarded a hotly-contested 12-round split decision when they first met in June 2012.