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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gym off-limits as Pacman revs up training

MANILA, Philippines - The Wild Card Gym is now off-limits to those with no business being around as Manny Pacquiao trains.

“If you don’t belong here, it’s time to go,” ex-heavyweight champ Michael Moorer, Pacquiao’s new assistant trainer, barks inside the gym these days.

The new rule is strictly being imposed, with the approval of the boxer himself, as the fight with Ricky Hatton moved just three weeks away.

Pacquiao is in the final phase of his training, the final push. Sparring sessions get longer and tougher, and nothing comes easy each day.

Chief trainer Freddie Roach wants no distraction at all, and it’s the first time that the “off-limits” sign is being observed throughout the day.

Pacquiao loves to train when there are fans around him, and he loves to put on a show. Roach must have felt that the practice had to stop.

“So many people just want to see him. It’s crazy. I just can’t control them so I had to close it down,” Roach, as shown through HBO’s Pacquiao vs Hatton 24/7, said.

“I thought they could help motivate Manny to train harder. But it motivated him to perform for them, and not for me,” he added.

A few weeks ago, Roach announced that fans could only see Pacquiao, seek autographs and have their pictures taken with him on Saturdays.

Now even the Saturdays are cancelled, according to LA-based orthodontist Ed dela Vega, a very close friend of Pacquiao’s.

“There will be no more fan interaction with Manny Pacquiao until the fight is over on May 2,” he reported from LA.

“They are asking for understanding and cooperation so as to allow Pacquiao and the coaches to concentrate on the tasks ahead.”

Under the new rule, no one outside of official Team Pacquiao members is allowed in the gym before, during and after the training.

Except on Wednesday, of course, when Pacquiao holds a media workout in the Hollywood sweatshop. The doors are closed when Hatton trains at the IBA gym in Las Vegas.

In the past, the gym is closed to fans only when Pacquiao spars, but somehow, somewhere people get to sneak in.

And before you know it, it appears to be a public workout. Not this time, and Wild Card security officer Rob Peters will make sure of that.

“The new rules will apply to everyone, from the ordinary fans to the “well-connected” and the VIPs,” Dela Vega said.

There will be no exceptions.


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