At his final training session Thursday before his Sunday morning (Macao time) welterweight world title defense against New Yorker Chris Algieri, Pacquiao devoted more than 90 tough minutes to ring work and conditioning and kept things festive.
He mocked the sometimes-flailing punching style of Algieri, laughed heartily at the recounting of a practical joke on his publicist, Fred Sternburg, and played out his hilarious new Foot Locker ad in which he confuses a store promotion with news that Floyd Mayweather Jr. would finally fight him.
“He’s gonna fight me? He’s gonna fight me? Yes! Yes! Yes!,” Pacquiao roared in the gym.
“Is it going to happen?” Pacquiao was asked.
Positive things are happening. Pacquaio's promoter, Bob Arum, has a meeting planned next week in Los Angeles with CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves, the man whose company has paid Mayweather four $30-million-plus purses in a deal that has two fights remaining.
Pacquiao smiled at the question. He’s made it clear he’ll bend significantly on the purse split to satisfy Mayweather’s demands.
“First things first,” Sternburg said.
Following a patented rope-skipping, sit-up routine to close the workout, Pacquiao said the completion of more than nine weeks of preparation is satisfying.
“I feel so happy because the hard work of training is finished, and the fight is almost here,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
His confidence in beating Algieri in a bout that will be televised by HBO pay-per-view?
“One hundred percent,” Pacquiao said after training exclusively in near-solitude (for Pacquiao’s standards) in General Santos City, Philippines, near his home. “I have that fire, that fire in my eyes.
“It’s been one of my best camps, good sparring mates. This training camp was like the early days we prepared. I’m excited. My passion of boxing, the support of my fans keeps me going. I’m honored to bring honor to my country, to entertain people.”
Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said this week this bout was not just about winning, but doing it impressively, a nod to the fact that Pacquaio wants his first knockout victory since 2009.
“I’m very confident, not predicting a knockout, but it’s going to be a fight people will enjoy -- a fantastic performance,” Pacquiao said.
Will he fight with more abandon knowing Algieri has just eight knockouts in 20 fights?
“I don’t want to get careless,” he said. “The fire, the aggressiveness is still there, but I won’t underestimate my opponent. I’m excited, ready.”