Sparring with Pacquiao like riding a roller coaster
MANILA, Philippines - A sparring partner of boxing's pound-for-pound king, Manny Pacquiao, compares his three minutes inside the ring with him to waiting in line and riding a roller coaster.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, David Rodela described the experience: "You hear the chk-chk-chk-chk-chk and you're excited, but once the care gets to the top, you're like, f***."
"You wonder how scary that drop's going to be. Then once you get hit, it all flies out the window," Rodela added.
Rodela, a veteran of 13 training camps with Pacquiao, has been tasked to mimic Juan Manuel Marquez' trademark tenacity in the ring to prepare the Filipino champion for his trilogy bout with the Mexican.
But it seems that nothing can truly prepare a boxer for the experience.
"It doesn't matter how many times you get on that roller coaster. It's still the same thing," Rodela said.
Rodela, along with Pacquiao's other sparring partners Jamie Kavanagh and Rey Beltran have noticed that Pacquiao has a tendency to show off when there is a notable celebrity inside the Wild Card Gym.
When basketball superstar Kobe Bryant visited Pacquiao during his training camp, the sparring partners prepared themselves for harder shots than usual.
Pacquiao impressed Bryant by hitting Kavanagh and Rodela with hard punches and combinations. Bryant was quoted as saying: "I wasn't even sure how many punches he was throwing. I just heard them."
Focused and prepared
In a separate interview with Yahoo! Sports, Rodela and Beltran said they were impressed with how Pacquiao has improved from fight to fight. Pacquiao has also shown more focus in his training camp for the Marquez bout.
"Brutal. Vicious. Totally focused," Rodela said of Pacquiao, who is aiming to end his trilogy with Marquez with a decisive victory.
"He's way, way better now than he was in 2008," Beltran said, referring to Pacquiao's 2008 rematch with Marquez. That bout ended in a close and controversial split decision victory for Pacquiao.
"He's giving you head movement now. He's got a right hand, which he was only starting to develop back then. And he's really smart now, and he sets traps and walks you into punches. This is by far the best I've ever seen him," he added.
Beltran also says he hopes Marquez is getting a lot of money for the fight, because the Mexican will be in trouble come fight night.
"He's going to see easily the best Manny Pacquiao ever," he said.