By NICK GIONGCO
A clone of Brandon Rios is being imported from Thailand to help Manny Pacquiao get used to the bruising tactics of the Mexican-American slugger as the Filipino icon’s training for the Nov. 24 fight reaches its peak very soon.
Two-division world champion Sirimingkol Singwancha is scheduled to arrive from Bangkok today and will head immediately to General Santos City to lend a hand to Pacquiao’s preparation, which is in its most crucial phase.
Singwancha’s entry was caused by the departure of Ghana’s Fredrick Lawson, who left the country Friday to get ready for his Nov. 22 fight in Africa.
Lawson had been sparring with Pacquiao the past four weeks alongside Ireland’s Liam Vaughan and Filipino Dan Nazareno and Singwancha’s arrival will beef up the cast of punching bags in the last three weeks of the buildup.
Team Pacquiao leaves for Macau on a private plane from General Santos City on the afternoon of Nov. 18.
Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum said the plane that will ferry the 34-year-old Pacquiao to the former Portuguese colony could either be a plane owned by “The Venetian or a plane they will charter.”
The CotaiArena, a 15,000-seat venue owned by The Venetian, will host the Pacquiao-Rios welterweight war.
By the time Pacquiao sets foot in Macau, Rios would already have been there for a week since the 27-year-old puncher is set to depart Los Angeles on Nov. 11.
Singwancha, who stands 5-8, is almost the same size and style as the rugged Rios, enabling lead trainer Freddie Roach and even Pacquiao himself to see what is it like slugging Rios at close range.
“Palaban din yang si Singwancha at talagang beterano sa bakbakan,” said two-time world champion Gerry Penalosa, a close friend of Pacquiao and a frequent visitor to his training camp.
Pacquiao is heavily favored to make a rousing comeback following his stunning sixth-round knockout defeat at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez last year in Las Vegas.
If victorious and super impressive against Rios, there are plans for Pacquiao to resurface in April next year, noted Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum.
Arum said Tim Bradley, who is coming off a win over Marquez and the recipient of a dubious decision win over Pacquiao in June last year, and Ruslan Provodnikov of Russia, a one-time Pacquiao sparmate, are being eyed as possible foes.
“Everyone would love to see that fight (Pacquiao versus Provodnikov),” said Arum, who turns 82 on Dec. 8.