This Boxing Science article from May 2015 explores Manny Pacquiao’s training camp for his Vegas clash with Floyd Mayweather.
Mayweather vs Pacquiao is just one day away, training camp is done, weight stripped off and media obligations have been completed.
Apart from ‘who will win?’ there is another important question.
‘What have they done in training?’
In this Boxing Science post we analyse Manny Pacquiao’s training methods in preparation for the biggest fight of his career.
Here, we have a look at the ‘Science behind Pacman’
Has Pacman prepared right?
Manny Pacquiao’s training is quite interesting as he is known to throw hundreds, if not thousands of punches in a fight and has two of the fastest hands in boxing. So how can he do this?
Attention to the core
Most of Manny Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning exercises seem to be very focused on developing core strength. Whether it’s the 1000’s of sit-ups he does in a car park, core stability exercises in the ring or throwing a medicine ball in various ways, ‘Manny knows’ its importance.
But why is the core important? Well, we found during our testing, that lean muscle of the core had a large relationship with estimated punching force.
This is because the core is an important link in the Kinetic Chain. Remember we want our boxers to be able to transmit large forces from foot to fist and a strong core enables this force transfer.
The core can transfer force in various directions. For boxers in particular the focus is in rotation. This means that the core plays an important role in all punches, whether it be a jab, hook or uppercut.
Varied intensities on pads
We often see Manny performing explosive pad sessions. These look impressive especially when Freddie Roach almost slips through the ropes !
But we also see Manny and Freddie going through slower, longer pad work where Manny seems to be going through the paces. Perhaps this is so Freddie can find the opportunity to provide advice and motivation.
Now, we do not no the exact justification for this training method, but from the outside looking in we like the varied pad intensities for two reasons.
- Building the aerobic base – Tempo pads performed for longer duration can increase strain on the cardiovascular system and help develop aerobic capacity.
- Active recovery – But not everything needs to be at 100 mph and using slower pad work might act as active recovery.
No man’s land runs
We don’t have the information to create a detailed analysis of Manny’s aerobic conditioning. But with the videos put online, we can see his entourage and even their pets keeping up with Manny.
Running at a “steady pace” and long distance running is very common and a traditional boxing training method. We often say when boxers run like this they are ‘running in no man’s land‘.
This topic warrants a post on its own but what we’re observing from the scientific literature on endurance training is that, athletes run at an intensity that’s either too fast when it’s supposed to be slow. Or the intensity is too slow when it’s supposed to be fast. Slower intensities elicit different physiological adaptations to fast intensities. And training in a medium intensity zone (no man’s land) is suboptimal for inducing adaptations targeted by slow and fast intensities.
The image below shows how we split aerobic training into 3 different zones at Boxing Science
The zones are separated by intensities determined by rate of perceived exertion (RPE). Distributing training in to these zones appropriately is important to optimise adaptations. This type of training quantification is important to improve physical performance and reduce the likelihood of illness, injury and overtraining. This is our guide, if you are serious about performance it is important to undergo physiological testing to determine these zones.
Manny has been an advocate for strength and conditioning with lengthy periods under current trainer Justin Fortune and old coach Alex Ariza (now with Mayweather).
As we said in our scientific verdict, this S&C work might not necessarily improve punching force as most of the exercises we see in the media are often bodyweight, low external load and isometric movements often performed for long periods of time or for many reps.
These training methods are not associated with improvements in maximal force production, and in turn, speed. In ‘Pacman Speed’, we explained that developing each section of the force-velocity curve is important to create an explosive fighter. Training just a few areas of the curve will effect explosivity… we don’t want a ‘strong but slow’ or a ‘fast but weak’ fighter. We want a fighter who’s ‘Strong and Fast’.
Are 8 weeks long enough?
Manny Pacquiao stated that he doesn’t train for boxing between fights. So the fight for Mayweather got announced just nine weeks before May 2nd, and Pacquiao started camp just a few days later, meaning his training camp will last just 8 weeks.
Periodisation of a typical training camp would consist of 3:1 volume loading pattern. Our Combat Conditioning 10-week packages often use this method so a boxer can safely increase training volume and ‘block’ training three times per camp.
An 8-week camp limits training volume, inhibits overload and recovery and therefore reduces the magnitude of adaptation during the training camp.
Although we question some of the training methods from a sport science perspective, we have much respect for both fighters. We especially admire their talent, hard work and dedication to reach the pinnacle of boxing.
Manny says “Train hard, fight easy”…. and we couldn’t agree more!
Want to learn more about structuring your training camp? The Boxing Science membership features access to video tutorials and workshops from the world’s leading experts in Sport Science for Boxing.