Fresh from Australia and unmindful of jetlag, light-middleweight Tim Tszyu climbed the ring on Tuesday afternoon and sparred with world champion Manny Pacquiao. The taller and wider Aussie, boasting of unbeaten professional record with 16 knockouts, duked it out with the Pacman for four rounds. In the end, both fighters were impressed.
For Pacquiao, he got exactly what he was looking for - a sparring partner that moves and jabs like Keith Thurman, the American boxer that he faces next on July 20 in Las Vegas, and with a physical profile that is a near-clone, again of Thurman.
"He fights very similar to Keith Thurman," Pacquiao told The Philippine Star.
For his part, Tszyu discovered first-hand the caliber of a prizefighter that Thurman has to deal with in the person of Pacquiao. The son of Russian legend Kostya Tszyu, the Australian national shared his initial observation to the local press.
"He's quick and he's relaxed, Tszyu said of the Filipino senator, according to the Manila Bulletin.
Pacquiao and Tszyu will spar for nine more sessions before Team Pacquiao packs up and head to Las Vegas on June 15. Justin Fortune, Pacquiao's long-time conditioning coach, said he picked his Aussie fellow because Tszyu is the closest thing to simulate a clash with Thurman.
According to Rappler, Tszyu is tasked to replicate how Thurman fights on the ring and should find it easy to do his job. The 24-year-old, after all, is just the same size of Thurman, in fact, an inch taller, and is thought to be the heavier puncher.
Tszyu fights comfortably as a super welterweight, and this makes him an excellent mold for Thurman and in turn the perfect sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao, the Rappler report added.
There will be more spar mates already lined up for Pacquiao when his team moves the training to the Wild Card boxing gym in Los Angeles, Fortune revealed. Freddie Roach has a ready list of who Pacquiao next spars with and there will be different guys for every session, an approach that Fortune described as integral to Pacquiao's training and preparation.
Fortune also touched on the crucial role that Roach plays on Pacquiao's mission to be the first man to humble the proud Thurman. The experience and wisdom, backed by 40 years of active dealings in the boxing world, that Roach brings with him will be essential to Team Pacquiao, he stressed.
"This is a pre-technical fight so we need Freddie there because his knowledge is what we need. This guy (Thurman) is not going to come forward. It is more of a technical fight absolutely - he won't go toe-to-toe with Manny. He will run," Fortune told The Manila Times.
Fortune recalled that during the fight with Adrien Broner, the inputs from Roach left Broner confused the moment Pacquiao started hitting and dominating. The team wants to see the same result with the fight against Thurman.
"We need Freddie for the preparation and sparring. We need Freddie's knowledge. We need that technical support of Freddie," Fortune said.