Pacquiao starts sparring Tuesday

PHILIPPINES NEWS SERVICE — MANNY Pacquiao’s training camp shifts into high gear with the arrival of two tough sparmates over the weekend.

Rising welterweight Shawn Porter and preferred choice Urbano Antillon are flying over here Sunday from the U.S. as sparring in Pacquiao’s training camp in Baguio City begins Tuesday.

Coming over from Los Angeles, the two will be immediately whisked to the country’s summer hideaway, giving them at least two days to get accustomed to the high-altitude weather of Baguio, which is some 1,500 meters above sea level.

The 30-year old Pacquiao has been in the City of Pines for almost a week now as he tries to get in the best shape of his career for a November 14 date with Miguel Cotto for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight belt.

Through with the first week of the camp, trainer Freddie Roach believes the boxing champion is now ready for sparring.

“He’s ready to spar,” said Roach after engaging Pacquiao for 10 rounds with the mitts Friday.

Antillon has been a regular Pacquiao sparmate in training camp, the last of which came when he fought Briton Ricky Hatton last summer for the International Boxing Organization (IBO) junior-welterweight title.

“Urbano is definitely the toughest sparring partner for Manny,” said Roach of the Mexican lightweight now based in Maywood, California. “He gets hit a little too much, but he always comes back with his own.”

The 27-year-old Antillon has a ring record of 26-1, with 19 KOs, and has sparred with some of boxing’s best fighters today including Juan Manuel Marquez and Edwin Valero.

“A very good and strong fighter,” Pacquiao said of Antillon after one of their sparring sessions for the Hatton fight at the Wild Card gym in Los Angeles.

Just as impressive is the unbeaten 21-year old Porter from Akron, Ohio.

Porter is a natural welterweight who holds a perfect 10-0 record, with 8 KOs.

He is a 2007 Golden Gloves champion and an alternate with the U.S. men’s boxing team to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

After spending a few sparring sessions at the Wild Card gym, Roach tapped Porter as Pacquiao sparmate as he reportedly has the same built and fighting style as Cotto.