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Pacquiao punch

Nick Giongco

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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Team Cuarto Nonoy Neri (left) hopes to provide a big boost to Rene Cuarto’s title challenge.

Neri lends hand to Cuarto’s title challenge

A long-time member of Manny Pacquiao’s training team will be calling the shots when Rene Cuarto makes an ambitious bid to dethrone Pedro Taduran as International Boxing Federation (IBF) minimumweight king on 27 February in General Santos City.

Nonoy Neri, who helps out Freddie Roach and Buboy Fernandez, will be the voice Cuarto will hear when he meets the favored Taduran in the scheduled 12-rounder.

But Neri admits Cuarto has to step up big time for the IBF title to change hands.

“It’s a tough fight for us but a great matchup,” Neri said from Davao City where he helps Cuarto get primed for Taduran’s thunderous fists.

It will be the second defense of Taduran (14-2-1 with 11 knockouts) after barely keeping the title following a spirited draw with Daniel Valladres of Mexico almost a year ago.

Cuarto (18-2-2 with 11 knockouts), originally from Zambaonga del Norte, Neri insists, “has a puncher’s chance.”

“Don’t count my fighter out because he packs dynamite on both fists,” Neri said.

Neri knows what he is talking about.

Even before Pacquiao invaded the US in 2001, Neri had been an integral member of the living legend’s original entourage.

Next to Fernandez, Neri is Pacquiao’s go-to guy locally when it comes to tactics and strategy when preparing for a big fight.

Taduran, one of four reigning Filipino world champions, certainly knows what he will be up against.

“I am not taking any shortcuts in my training because I know I am in for a rough night” Taduran said in Pilipino from his training camp in La Union.

Indeed, Neri’s glowing reputation by way of Pacquiao, is keeping Taduran and his team on red alert.

Nevertheless, next month’s clash promises to be a shootout.

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