by Nick Giongco
It was business as usual for Manny Pacquiao on Christmas Eve as the Filipino eight-division champion woke up early for a trek to Griffith Park and reported for his first gym session in the afternoon at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.
Welcoming Pacquiao at the Wild Card on Vine Street was Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, who was joined in the training session by Buboy Fernandez and the rest of the training team barely four weeks left before the Adrien Broner fight on Jan. 19 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao and his family arrived in the US on Saturday evening and went to church the next day.
He is expected to train and even spar on Christmas Day as Pacquiao enters the most crucial phase of his eight-week buildup. On standby as sparmates are Australian George Kambosos and Lydell Rhodes.
Kambosos was Pacquiao’s main sparring in the Philippines while Rhodes had also worked with the former pound-for-pound king in the past.
The Broner fight will be Pacquiao’s first defense of the World Boxing Association welterweight crown he took last July from Argentine banger Lucas Matthysse in Malaysia.
Pacquiao, who turned 40 last Dec. 17, spent the first week in Manila and General Santos City.
A week before the Broner bout, Pacquiao will travel to Sin City where he will taper off and cool down.
The last time Pacquiao fought on US soil, he defeated Mexican-American Jessie Vargas in Nov. 2016 when he was still with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc.
Pacquiao is now aligned with Al Haymon, best known as the top adviser to Floyd Mayweather.
While Broner is the clear underdog, Pacquiao can’t take him for granted.
A Mayweather copycat, Broner has a 33-3-1 win-loss-draw record with 24 KOs and is a four-division world champion.
Pacquiao, holder of a 60-7-2 mark with 39 KOs, is aiming to get a second crack at Mayweather in the event he gets past Broner.