It's 6:20 am on a Monday morning and I'm standing in front of a two-story, Mediterranean-style mansion in Los Angeles, just steps from the famous Paramount Pictures property. In the middle of the street, someone sprayed a depiction of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man on power pellets . The car, which is parked in front of me, has a washstand with the inscription TEAM MP. Another car has a license plate with the inscription "PACMANP".
For boxing fans, these hints make it clear where I am: superstar Manny Pacquiao's noble, million-dollar property.
Shortly after, a swarm of people in training clothes start to leave the house and pile up in a caravan with cars. Surrounded by a group of his friends and training partners, the Filipino fighter and senator sits in a Cadillac Escalade as he drives into nearby Griffith Park. Pacquiao has walked for over a thousand miles in the scenic mountains that tower above Tinseltown. Since arriving in America for the first time in 2001
At age 40, boxing is only eight years old -division champion (he also has a 61-7-2 record with 39 KO's) still has the passion and motivation for training that athletes often do in his half-age absence. In order to gain a better understanding of the attitudes and focus required for a generation talent, I follow Pacquiao during his two-day training schedule while fighting his 70th pro fight against the undefeated Keith Thurman against Pacquiao , being prepared on July 20 lose in pencil.
Just as I'm about to follow the Escalade, Emmanuel Ferrer, a member of Team Pacquiao that I've never met in my life, casually opens my passenger door and sits down next to me. "Are you ready to run?" He asks rhetorically. "Let's go!"
Ferrer does not care that I do not have time for a Starbucks run, or he offers me pity. He is excited and ready to join the group of 20, including professional boxers such as Jhack Tepora, Genisis Libranza, John Riel Casimero and Jayar Inson, veterans of the US Army and Pacquiao's younger brother Bobby for the morning cardio session.
During the drive to Griffith Park, Ferrer says he was just a fan when he first met Pacquiao in the morning after boxing against Juan Manuel Marquez in 2008. Ferrer, also a Filipino with an uncanny resemblance to Pacquiao, wandered into the Wynn Las Vegas buffet for breakfast and was invited by the boxer to dine with his crew. They've been friends since then and Ferrer has completed over 100 of those runs.
Ferrer leads me to the starting point of the descent and I park. He advises me to give the keys to his girlfriend Rhea so she can follow us to the Griffith Observatory, where a lot of supporters will be waiting for the pinnacle of the exercise.
"You will not want to run back down when finished," says Ferrer. "Trust me."
I hand over my keys, and off we go, as Sean Gibbons, Pacquiao's right-hand man and matchmaker for the Boxer's MP Promotions, gives me an encouraging "let's go champ!" – Sending sender.
I have treated Pacquiao's career in detail, but never before. We close our eyes and he looks at me as if to ask, "Are you serious?"
I quickly finish my drink before training, queuing up my Spotify playlist and making my way . ,