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Manny Pacquiao starts sparring

Manny Pacquiao, training for his long-awaited welterweight unification fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, had his first day of sparring on Tuesday at trainer Freddie Roach's Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California.

Pacquiao spent a couple of weeks doing conditioning work in the Philippines before coming to the United States at the beginning of this month for his training camp. He did another two weeks of conditioning before beginning the sparring part of his training.

"After 13 days of strength and conditioning and boxing drills at Wild Card plus weeks more of working out in the Philippines in February, it was great to finally put on the headgear and spar," Pacquiao said. "My sparring partners gave me good work today. They were perfect for testing the strategy Freddie and I have developed to beat Floyd Mayweather. I was very happy with my stamina and speed today."

Pacquiao went five rounds on Tuesday. He went the first rounds with Edis Tatli (24-1, 8 KOs), 27, of Finland, whose only loss was a majority decision challenging lightweight world titleholder Richar Abril in September in Finland. Then Pacquiao sparred three more rounds with Chicago junior welterweight prospect Kenneth Sims Jr. (5-0, 2 KOs), a 21-year-old who had previously worked out at the Wild Card gym and caught the eye of Roach, who was impressed by his talent and because his style is similar to Mayweather's.

"When Manny threw out the first punch it felt like opening day of Irish spring training," Roach joked, noting that it was St. Patrick's Day. "Manny looked so fresh today. I'm very happy with what he showed me. You couldn't tell he had been away from the ring since the (Chris) Algieri fight in November. Manny is on fire in the gym.

"I am confident May 2 will be celebrated for years to come as St. Manny's Day - the day he drove Mayweather out of boxing."

Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs), boxing's only eight-division world titleholder, and Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs), a five-division titleholder and the pound-for-pound king, will meet in the main event of a joint Showtime and HBO pay-per-view in what is universally expected to be the richest fight in boxing history, a match that was more than five years in the making before they finally signed for it late last month.

Mayweather is in training camp at his gym, the Mayweather Boxing Club, in Las Vegas.