Roach closes doors as Pacquiao spars

By Abac Cordero/The Philippine Star – Freddie Roach has taken over Manny Pacquiao’s training in General Santos City and first order of the day was to close the doors of the local version of the Wild Card Gym.

Roach arrived Thursday morning from the United States and took a connecting flight to General Santos. He got there just in time for Pacquiao’s training.

Roach flew in with Liam Vaughan, a 23-year-old and 8-1-0 light-middleweight from Liverpool who will join Ghanian Fredrick Lawson and Filipino Dan Nazareno as Pacquiao’s sparring partners.

Thursday was a sparring day for the 34-year-old Pacquiao, who’s getting ready for a very important showdown with Brandon Rios in Macau on Nov. 24.

The Filipino congressman is coming off two straight losses and is pressured to win impressively against the younger, hungrier Rios.

Pacquiao has been training for almost four weeks now under Buboy and Roger Fernandez and Nonoy Neri with the Peñalosa brothers led by Dodie Boy, Gerry, Jonathan on hand. Now he has over six weeks to train under Roach.

Pacquiao sparred for six rounds behind closed doors. Even mediamen were asked to leave the gym before the first punch was thrown.

Ryan Songalia, a Fil-American who writes for Ring Magazine, was asked to leave the gym. He told The STAR he wasn’t too upset but hoped he’d be allowed in when Pacquiao trains today – a non-sparring day.

“Seems that with several incidents and accusations of media members acting as spies for rival camps, trainers aren’t taking any chances,” said Songalia, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Team Pacquiao members said a video footage of Pacquiao’s recent training session was posted on the Internet although it was not Songalia’s.

Even when Pacquiao trains at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, Roach orders the doors closed, especially on sparring days.

And when mediamen are let in, they are not allowed to use video cameras or cell phone cameras as Pacquiao is inside the ring.

Closing the doors during Pacquiao’s training isn’t really new. In fact, it’s a sign, a very good sign, that things are just turning more serious.

“The six rounds of sparring went well,” said Pacquiao’s adviser, Mike Koncz.

“Yes, closed doors,” he added.

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