Fight Week Conditioning with Manny Pacquiao

The eight-division champ returns to the ring this weekend for a redemption bout against undefeated Timothy Bradley.


When boxing star Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KO) steps back into the ring this weekend against Timothy Bradley, he’ll be faster and more explosive than he has been in years, thanks in large part to the return of strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune, whose old school, power-and-speed based approach helped Pacquiao gain a reputation as a knockout artist on his rise to superstardom.


Birthdate: December 17, 1978 (age 35)

Birthplace: Kibawe, Bukidnon, Philippines

Height: 5’6”

Walking Weight: 150 pounds

Fighting Weight: 147 pounds

Record: 55-5-2, 38 KO

“It has been good to have Justin back,” Pacquiao says. “I feel very strong and my punches have an explosiveness to them that they have not had in a very long time.”

With Fortune in his corner, Pacquiao never lost a fight. He posted epic, highlight reel wins against top-tier opponents like Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera using the same low-tech, throwback training methods that he has done for this second bout with Bradley. For Fortune, the reasoning is simple.

“In his last few fights, he’s been lacking the power and explosiveness that made him a marquee fighter,” he says of Pacquiao, who has lost two of his last three, including a controversial decision to Bradley in June 2012. “So over the last 10 weeks, we’ve built it back and his body is responding like crazy, just by doing things they did in the old days – swinging medicine balls, doing wheelbarrow carries, swinging sledgehammers. Real manual labor stuff like fighters used to do.”

Fortune’s approach isn’t all blue collar. Pacquiao is also routinely put through a battery of upper body and lower body plyometrics designed to maximize his total-body power and quickness – two key ingredients in a knockout punch – by emphasizing fast-twitch muscle fiber. Pacquiao, has notched 38 stoppages by KO but hasn’t won a fight in that fashion since stopping Miguel Cotto in the final round of their 2009 catch-weight championship fight.

In addition to rebuilding his one-punch rep, Fortune has worked hard on keeping Manny’s lower-body stamina high.

“We think he’s going to do a lot of chasing in this Bradley fight,” Fortune says. “So to do that, he’s running about 4-5 miles a day, sometimes in the hills – all uphill – at a pretty good pace.”

Heading into the fight, Pacquiao’s weight is right on target, which means no stressful cutting of water weight this week. This is particularly beneficial because Pacquiao is seven years older than when he and Fortune were working together last.

“He is strong and he is ready,” Fortune says. “Even if – and that’s a big if – he’s he’s dropped a notch, he’s still ridiculously faster than anyone out there. Manny’s just a freak physically and fighters like him don’t come along very often. After he’s done, there won’t be another one like him for a long time.”

So what’s “freaky?” Well, Pacquiao, who never seems to tire in the ring, puts it best: “My gym sessions aren’t as long as they used to be. They’re only three hours a day now.”

See Pacquiao's power workout on next page.