by Nick Giongco
Manny Pacquiao is beefing up his team of sparring partners with the arrival of fresh legs this week as the Filipino enters the most crucial stage of his buildup for the welterweight unification war with Keith Thurman on July 20 in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao’s right-hand man Sean Gibbons is bringing in Eddie Gomez of Bronx, New York and Jose Roman of Garden Grove, California, raising the number of sparmates to four.
During his first week of raining under Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Pacquiao racked up precious rounds with Peruvian Arnold Gonzalez and Mexican-American AB Lopez.
The arrival of Gomez and Roman is expected to step up Pacquiao’s preparations for the undefeated Thurman, who is slightly favored to repulse the challenge set at the MGM Grand.
Pacquiao, 40, arrived in the US from Manila on June 15 after four weeks of training in Manila.
After a lethargic first day owing to jet lag, Pacquiao rebounded in the coming days and has already gotten into the groove, according to Roach, who is in his 18th year serving as the voice in the corner.
There’s not much being heard from Thurman, who is neck-deep in training in Tampa Bay in Florida.
But the 30-year-old is expected to surface any time now and provide updates in his own camp.
Thurman was last seen in January, exactly a week after Pacquiao mauled Broner, and he didn’t look impressive at all, surviving as hellish seventh-round en route to a points win over Josesito Lopez.
However, Pacquiao’s handlers insist the Thurman who will show up come fight night will be at his best.