They threw a 160-pound middleweight at Manny Pacquiao yesterday as the Filipino boxing icon marked day one of sparring for his coming fight against Brandon Rios in Macau.
Marlon Alta, nicknamed “Bone Crusher,” didn’t really have a choice when he was asked to spar with the hard-hitting Pacquiao at the Wild Card Gym in General Santos City.
Min Wook Kim was supposed to come in to spar with Pacquiao. But the WBO Orient Pacific welterweight champion didn’t make the flight from South Korea.
Alta, a 23-year-old local boxer with a ring record of 12-3-0 with nine knockouts, took the cudgels and slugged it out with Pacquiao for three rounds.
“Sparring went three rounds,” said Mike Koncz in a text message to The STAR.
“It went very well. Manny started to take control at the start of the second round and had complete control by the third,” the Canadian adviser to Pacquiao added.
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It was the first time in a very long while since Pacquiao traded punches with anyone inside the ring. He hasn’t fought since November last year when he was knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao, who also lost to Tim Bradley last year, will try to pick up the pieces against Rios when they clash on Nov. 24 (Nov. 23 in the United States) at The Venetian in Macau.
Pacquiao isn’t taking Rios lightly because another loss could mean the end of the road for one of boxing’s great fighters of this generation.
Pacquiao started gearing up for the Rios fight a couple of weeks back with morning runs and gym sessions in the afternoon. On the side, he plays basketball.
Now that he has started sparring, things will slowly shift to high gear.
Koncz said Pacquiao expected to be in Manila today for a private commitment, and is expected to train Monday and Tuesday at the boxer’s own gym in Sampaloc, Manila.
They are bringing Alta along just in case the South Korean opts to stay home instead.
Freddie Roach is coming over in the first or second week of October to supervise Pacquiao’s training. A couple more sparring partners are expected to fly in..
Fredrick Lawson of Ghana, undefeated in 21 fights with 19 knockouts, is scheduled to arrive soon to spar with Pacquiao.
Until then, Alta will be there crushing his bones against Pacquiao.