Beginning Saturday, the door to Manny Pacquiao’s training room in Hollywood will remain closed and locked before and after working hours.
The eight-division champion told The Times that he intends to sharpen his focus for his May 2 showdown against Floyd Mayweather Jr. by eliminating workout interviews with reporters until his April 15 media day.
Pacquiao’s conditioning plan is proceeding well.
On Thursday, he did 1,300 sit-ups in the morning and followed that with 10 rounds of sparring, 10 rounds of shadow boxing and six straight minutes of a hellish box-step drill.
But trainer Freddie Roach is not entirely satisfied with how Pacquiao has looked in sparring, specifically in how Pacquiao is not cutting off the ring as sharply as he did in November, when he scored a career-best six knockdowns of then-unbeaten Chris Algieri in Macao.
“Since the red carpet [March 11] until now, we’ve done so much press — triple any other fight — he’s a little tired of it,” Roach said. “I told him I’ll pick up the slack if needed. I can be tired. He can’t.”
Pacquiao stressed the importance of mental preparation for a fight, especially one of this magnitude that is expected to destroy pay-per-view records, with the face value of floor seats at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas listed at $10,000.
“You have to focus without interruption after your activities of jogging, training … I don’t want to focus on anything other than boxing,” Pacquiao told The Times following his Thursday workout.
“I’m not complaining about interviews. They help us promote the fight and help the people know what’s happening in the camps. This is just the first time I’m asking for time to focus. There’s something I need to achieve in this camp, especially mentally.”
He said he wants to be convinced “before we leave to Vegas” in the final week of April that he’s fully prepared to deal Mayweather (47-0) his first loss.
Many times, Pacquiao can’t help himself from being so good-natured and accommodating. With Roach waiting to discuss something post-training Thursday, Pacquiao grabbed a friend’s iPhone and asked a reporter to watch Rihanna’s April Fool’s joke on late-night television host Jimmy Kimmel from the night before.
Part of Pacquiao’s preparation is to let the fight play out in his mind. Roach expects Mayweather to be possibly his most aggressive in the first round, so there’s strategy to answer what could develop into an early fire fight.
In his recent workouts, Pacquiao has routinely thrown punches in furious flurries from one corner to the next, showing the ability to subject Mayweather to the type of pressure he’s never before seen in the ring.
“I always train 30 rounds a day. There’s nothing to lose being prepared in 100% condition,” Pacquiao said.
Roach said he upset Pacquiao over the past weekend by pressing him to work through some calf and leg pain. Pacquiao was briefly pulled off his runs up Griffith Park, but after following the trainer’s orders, he’s twice run up the hills this week and showed that there's no calf/leg wear by completing the rigorous box drill.
The small box, about 18 inches high, is set in front of him in the ring, and Pacquiao steps atop it while alternating feet repeatedly.
He said he first used the box before his breakout 2003 dismantling of proud Mexican warrior Marco Antonio Barrera and relied on it again to send Oscar De La Hoya into retirement in 2008.
“I’m coming to the ring to win the fight and bring honor to my country,” said Pacquiao, a sometimes-singer who will enter the ring May 2 to his new single, "I Will Fight for the Filipino People."
“Everyone knows how important this fight is, and for me it’s really, really, really important because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime fight. It’s a big responsibility for me to win.
“My plan is to focus on the fight.”