Filipino boxing icon and pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao no longer has any problems with his left leg that bothered him some weeks ago and looked in great shape when he sparred six rounds at the Wild Card Gym on Saturday.
Ariza told us that he was particularly happy because Pacquiao’s “footwork was great and Freddie was very, very pleased with his footwork. Today he (Pacquiao) focused on footwork in moving and lateral movements and was doing just what he was supposed to do and me, I’m so happy because I asked him about the leg and the leg is a hundred percent now.”
Pacquiao sparred six rounds with Abdullai Amidu, the undefeated Ghana fighter with 17 knockouts in 18 wins and longtime sparring partner David Rodela, the super featherweight who helped him prepare for the rematch with Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera and whose quickness and hand-speed are his assets.
Ariza said that before they leave for Dallas, they would taper off and “slow down a little bit” although Pacquiao will spar a few rounds on Monday after taking Sunday off .
The conditioning guru who together with Roach who refined Pacquiao’s fighting style helped add explosive power to Pacquiao. He has since Ariza joined the team scored devastating victories ovr David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton and Miguel Cotto.
Meantime, the Texas Boxing Commission has picked former US Army boxer and a native of Puerto Rico, Rafael Ramos to be the referee in the Pacquiao-Clottey fight on Sunday (Manila Time) which will be telecast in the Philippines by Solar Sports.
Ramos was referee in the 2009 "Fight of the Year" between Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz and also officiated in a couple of world title fights in Japan.
Ramos has refereed fights in Texas for over 20 years and was chosen over another Texas favorite Laurence Cole who handled the first Pacquiao fight against Marco Antonio Barrera at the Alamadome in San Antonio in November 2003 in which Pacquiao annihilated the Mexican legend in eleven rounds.
It was Cole who ruled that a slip by Pacquiao was a knockdown and a clear knockdown by Pacquiao a slip.
John Whisler of San Antonio Sports reported that the 53 year old Ramos was not the first choice as the WBO whose welterweight title held by Pacquiao is on the line, wanted Cole. However, Whisler reports that the executive director of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation which oversees boxing in Texas is said to over-ruled the WBO and assigned Ramos as the third man in the ring.
Internationally respected referee Bruce NcTavish of New Zealand who makes his home in the Philippines told Ramos was "a good choice."
Even in Las Vegas, the Nevada State Athletic Commission exercises its jurisdiction and assigns the officials often incurring the displeasure of world organizations such as the World Boxing Council.
However, the NSAC has come under some criticism for its failure to assert its position on the issue of random blood tests demanded by Floyd Mayweather Jr which torpedoed a mega-fight with Pacquiao. The "Fighter of the Decade" agreed to blood tests 24 days before the fight and immediately after the fight but Mayweather insisted on 14 days before, resulting in negotiations falling apart.
When we asked executive director Keith Kizer whether the NSAC will supervise or have anything to do with the random blood tests of Floyd Mayweather Jr and Shane Mosley who will clash on May 1 at the MGM Grand, Kizer replied “we will review the results.”