Pacquiao sparring partner is the ‘right carpenter’

By Alex P. Vidal/ PNS

LOS ANGELES, California – Mexican fans in Vista and Escondido in San Diego County have hailed the choice of Team Pacquiao to hire the services of former World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo as one of the three regular sparring partners of Manny Pacquiao in his training camp in Baguio City, Philippines.

“Gracias por su cooperacion (thank you for the cooperation of) Michael Koncz,” said Potenciano Santocildes Sr. of Boxeo Manos y Manos Club in Escondido.

He was referring to reports that it was Koncz, a US-based Canadian fight agent, who was responsible for tapping the services of the 35-year-old resident of Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico who had arrived in Baguio City to join Urbano Antillon and Shawn Porter.

The tree have been tasked to bamboozle Pacquiao from pillar to post during the training regimen and be prepared to also receive the world champion’s heavy blows in no holds-barred fisticuffs.

Koncz, the most maligned member of Pacquiao’s boxing management, has been criticized in media for bringing in an “old” sparring partner for Pacquiao. He neither confirmed nor denied he was the one who recruited Castillo, nicknamed “El Tireble” like his compatriot Erik Morales.


Santocildes Sr., 48, who teaches young boxers in Torrey Pines and Chula Vista, said instead of vilifying Koncz, his critics should thank him for “picking the right carpenter to build a house.”

He described Castillo (60-9-1, 52 KO’s), who grew up in Santocildes’ hometown in Sonora, Mexico, as “human bazooka” who continues to explode and stands in front even if his legs are wobbly from punishment.

Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KO’s) would love to spar with somebody who is willing to receive his punches and withstand the pressure without let up and Castillo perfectly fits the role, according Romano Baja, Santocildes’ assistant who had watched Pacquiao’s sparring sessions at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood when Pacquiao was revving up for his December 5, 2008 duel with Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas.

Baja said Castillo is not scared of Pacquiao even as he recalled that Castillo was prepared to defend his crown in June 2006 against the best boxer pound-for-pound from General Santos City, Mindanao when Castillo’s third match against the late Diego Corrales was cancelled.

Baja added that at five feet and eight inches in height, Castillo fights like 5’11”former World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight boss Antonio Margarito, the only fighter to stop Miguel Angel Cotto in a bloody brawl at the MGM Grand in July last year.

“Sometimes, it’s good to spar with somebody who fights like your opponent’s tormentor,” Baja, 40, explained through an interpreter.


Meanwhile, Santocildes Sr., who had predicted David Diaz’s downfall when the Chicago ex-Olympian fought Pacquiao in March last year, chided those who invoked Castillo’s fourth round knockout loss to Ricky Hatton as their only basis for impeaching Castillo as Pacquiao’s sparring partner.

“You don’t do that if you know your boxing,” Santocildes Sr. pointed out, referring to those who brought up Castillo’s defeat to Hatton, a former International Boxing Organization (IBO) light welterweight champion who was destroyed by Pacquiao in two rounds last May 2.

It is Cotto (34-1, 27 KO’s) who will face Pacquiao on Nov. 14, not Castillo, he stressed. “If common denominators are to be measured, why not recall how Castillo gave Floyd Mayweather Jr. hell in their two epic battles?”

Baja and Santocildes Sr. suggested to analysts to focus on the sparring partner’s skills and style rather than his past losses which he considered as “immaterial” in high profile mega fights

Mayweather and Castillo squared off on April 20, 2002 and on August 3, 2002 in Las Vegas. Although he lost by decision in both slugfests, Castillo made a good account of himself by stretching the then pound-for-pound king to the limit.