Comments:
admin
44015 points

That Pacquiao/Mosley fight was horrible. Shane was such a scaredy cat!

jaymie
19087 points

The Fight of the Physical Outlier
Manny Pacquiao's Conditioning, and His Ability to Win Across Weight Classes, Confounds Experts.

Like any elite athlete, Manny Pacquiao has a conditioning coach to help put him through his paces. The Brazilian Alex Ariza has held the role for the past three years.

It has been quite the adventure.

Ariza's star client is a physical outlier with a resting heart rate of 42 beats a minute. During intense workouts, that rate will rise to 205—a level the boxer can sustain for long periods. Pacquiao does 2,000 repetitions each day of situps and other punishing abdominal exercises. He rounds out these exercises by, among other things, fast hill runs, interval training, zipping around cones to improve footwork and even, when no fight is coming up, playing basketball.

Some endurance athletes, like Olympic cross-country skiers, have lower resting pulse rates—somewhere around 38, Ariza says—but they also train at high altitude, something Pacquiao doesn't. "Manny is on the level of the most conditioned athletes in the world," the trainer says. "He's a phenomenon. I wish we could do in-depth tests, but he doesn't like anything invasive."

On Saturday in Las Vegas, Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 knockouts) will defend his WBO welterweight title against Sugar Shane Mosley (46-6-1, 39 knockouts) in a Showtime pay-per-view bout. As the fight approaches, trainers and conditioning experts continue to puzzle over the 32-year-old Filipino champ.

The enduring mystery is how he has managed to win titles in a record eight weight classes, from flyweight (112-pound limit) to light-middleweight (154-pound limit). Unlike any fighter in history, he has packed on the pounds without surrendering his searing speed and pulverizing power. While Pacquiao's fitness isn't completely off the charts in any one category, he has been able to gain weight without sacrificing any of his fistic skills.

The feat is so unthinkable it has led some to speculate that he might be cheating. Pacquaio has never tested positive for any banned substance and vigorously denies taking any performance-enhancing drugs.

One theory is that Pacquiao benefits from a high level of energy, one that lets him indulge a consuming passion for exercise. In the morning, his trainer says, he begins with long hill-runs in which only his dog can keep up. In the afternoon, he puts in as many as 12 rounds of sparring followed by seemingly endless calisthenics. Often, when he finishes his grueling 14-exercise ab routine, he'll do it again.

There are boxers who log the same number of hours as Pacquiao, but no one with his fire and focus. "Manny will go 15 rounds hitting the pads with me, and do exercises in the 60-second intervals between rounds," says his boxing trainer, Freddie Roach. "It's crazy."

"On days when we have heavy sparring, we like to cut out the morning run," Ariza says. "Manny knows this and he'll plead, 'Please don't stop me from running today.' "

Other differences that make Pacquiao stand out are the intensity and tempo at which he trains and fights, and his ability to ignore pain. Most boxers are constantly trying to decide when to expend energy and when to take a round off. Pacquiao likes to know that he has enough training in the bank to allow him to bring the most intense heat possible and to punch almost continuously. In his past two title defenses, Pacquiao has averaged a startling 96 punches per round. Against Antonio Margarito, he let fly 1,069 blows and connected with 474 punches, the eighth-highest total ever recorded in a championship bout by Compubox, a statistics service. "Sure, Manny is fast and hits hard, but the thing that is special with him is his intensity," says sparring partner Shawn Porter. "It is electric in there. He is always pushing the pace."

According to Ariza, there is a rare breed of person, often trained by the military, who can blot out the physical pain that comes during heavy exertion as lactic acid builds up in the muscles. "Manny is definitely one of them," he insists. "When Manny was a kid, he would run five miles a day in flip flops. Try that for a while and it will not only toughen your feet up, it will increase your pain tolerance."

Pacquiao is favored to beat Mosley in Saturday's fight. Mosley is 39 and coming off two lackluster fights, a draw with Sergio Mora and, before that, a drubbing from Floyd Mayweather Jr. But the speedy Mosley has a cast-iron chin and has never been stopped. He boasts a tremendous counter right and a paralyzing left hook that he frequently brings to the body.

As quick as Pacquiao is, he can be reckless. When he attacks, he often squares up and makes a target of his chin. "Margarito is slow, and he was able to hit Manny. So I think I should be able to do the same and more," Mosley said last week. Former world champion Antonio Tarver says Pacquiao's offense is great, "but his defense is not up to the same level."

Nevertheless, Pacquiao, a southpaw, owns a lethal straight left and a punishing right hook that he likes to use as a counter over his opponent's jab. Tarver notes that Pacquiao is so fast and hits so hard, "I'm not sure that an orthodox fighter like Mosley will be able to adjust to all that speed and power coming from the left side."

Some say Mosley is a shadow of his former self, but Roach isn't one of them. Asked what Pacquiao needs to work on for this contest, Roach is emphatic: "In Manny's last fight, there were a number of times when he went back to the ropes just to taste Margarito's power. I don't want him doing that in this one. Shane can knock you out with either hand. I want Manny to keep the fight in the center of the ring—especially in those early rounds."

In the end, Roach believes Mosley has a hard time with fast opponents who won't come right at him. He's confident that his magnificently conditioned, hard-punching fighter will be the first to register a "loss by KO" on Mosley's long ledger.

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