Like a leader of a band trying to bring back the songs which brought fame and glory, Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has decided to bring back his old team together to prepare for the most critical bout of his boxing career.
Yesterday, after training at the MP Towers gym in what used to be known as the L & M Gym on Paquita Street, Sampaloc, Manila, Pacquiao informed close confindantes and journalist Chino Trinidad that he was taking in his former conditioning coach, Justin Fortune.
Fortune is expected to arrive in Manila on Friday and is expected to start working on Pacquiao’s conditioning in preparation for his November 24 fight against young American Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios in Macau.
The Australian conditioning coach’s arrival will effectively fill in the void caused by the yanking of Colombian Alex Ariza who figured in a rift with chief trainer Freddie Roach.
Fortune himself figured in a spat with Roach in the past over the sharing of the trainer and conditioner’s fees in Pacquiao’s fight against Mexican Jorge Solis.
This problem has apparently been solved because Fortune could not have possibly rejoined the team without the approval of Roach.
Fortune, a former heavyweight campaigner, was Pacquiao’s conditioning coach during the early years of his successful US campaign which included sensational wins over Marco Antonio Barrera.
Shortly after the departure of Ariza from the Pacquiao, insiders expressed fears that the Filipino boxing icon’s preparation for his fight against Rios would be adversely affected by the absence of a conditioning coach.
Fortune’s re-entry completes the feared Team Pacquiao of years back with Freddie Roach as the chief trainer, Buboy Fernandez and Nonoy Neri as assistant trainers and Fortune as conditioning coach.
The return of his old team to his corner could also have a positive psychological effect on Pacquiao who is in a must-win situation following his two successive losses, first to American Timothy Bradley and a shocking knockout loss to nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez.