By Steve Kim: Noted trainer Freddie Roach is already back to his daily grind at the gym. On Tuesday afternoon at the downstairs portion of the Wild Card Boxing Club (a Laundromat in a former life), he had finished up his day’s work with Ruslan Provodnikov (who faces Chris Algieri on June 14th) and was awaiting the arrival of Miguel Cotto (who faces middleweight king Sergio Martinez on June 7th). But still fresh on the mind of the boxing world is the victory of his star pupil, Manny Pacquiao over Tim Bradley this past weekend in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao took over the second half of the rematch and unlike their first match-up, never really took his foot off the gas pedal to win by the scores of 116-112 (twice) and 118-110 to recapture the WBO welterweight belt.
Roach is undoubtedly satisfied with the result but was he happy with the “Pac-Man’s” performance?
“Yeah,” he said to Maxboxing, “overall it was a good performance. Bradley did surprise me a little bit and he came out with a different game plan than what we had gotten ready for. He was very aggressive early in the fight. We thought he’d be boxing, counterpunching a bit more but he came to knock Manny out and he was going for the fence with big swings and a couple of them landed and I think he hurt Manny in the fourth round a little bit. But after that, Manny took control of the fight and I thought he won every round from that point on.
“But his performance was good. I liked the killer instinct when he had [Bradley] on the ropes. [Pacquiao] tried to finish him. Bradley was in a little bit of trouble but one thing about him is that, obviously, he’s a very, very tough guy. He’s never been knocked out before and one thing about Manny Pacquiao - he’s not a great puncher at 147 like everyone thinks. Everyone says he’s not getting the knockouts like with [Ricky] Hatton and those knockouts were at 135 and 140. So the thing is Manny’s only knocked out two guys at welterweight and that was Miguel and Oscar [De la Hoya]. So with a tough guy like Bradley, who’s got a great chin like that, I wasn’t surprised Bradley went the distance.”
With that in mind, Roach says, “I’m going to ask him if we can fight at 140 because that’s a better weight for him. He has no trouble making 140. He walks around at 142, so we really have to put weight on to make 147 and he’s fighting these bigger, stronger guys. I mean, Bradley was at least 160 going into that ring.”
Roach admits there is a natural decline in Pacquiao given he’s 35 years old and a veteran of over 60 professional bouts. If the Pacquiao of 2008-2010 was Bo Derek - in other words, a “10” - what is this current version? “Y’know, I think he’s about an eight; he’s still doing well. He beat a legit guy; he beat him soundly. I think he was hurt a little bit in the fourth round but that’s part of life.”
Pacquiao certainly looked much more comfortable and confident in the ring than he did back in November against Brandon Rios. In Macao, China, he just dipped his toe into the water. Against Bradley, he was much more willing to dive right in there.
“The thing is he got a little bit flat-footed after the fifth round going into the sixth. I told him, ‘Manny, you gotta get back on your toes.’ He said, ‘My cramps,’ I said, ‘Cramps?! F*ck the cramps. Let’s go; you’re going to force it.’ But he really wasn’t talking about the cramps. When they collided knees that one time, he hurt his knee a little bit; he told me later but he didn’t know how to say it to me. So he said, ‘cramps,’” said Roach, laughing.
Of course, the obligatory questions about a fight with Floyd Mayweather were asked after this weekend’s bout. Roach understands the dynamics that exist in this quagmire but he states, “Manny, I guess, is a free agent in December and [Top Rank Promotions CEO] Bob’s [Arum] obviously making a very strong offer for Manny and Mayweather and his people. I haven’t heard of them making an offer at all. So that’s where we stand at this point. So the thing is Manny’s a pretty loyal person. Him and Arum have gotten along well and Arum’s been pretty good to Manny, I think, throughout. But if he does sign with Arum, then Mayweather goes away. But Mayweather’s never come with an offer though.”
The fight Roach wants next is a fifth chapter with archrival Juan Manuel Marquez.
“It’s just for payback. It was a great knockout punch and I won’t say ‘lucky’ but he threw the right punch at the right time and we walked into a shot,” said the veteran cornerman, referring to their fourth fight back in December of 2012. “But I would like to get that one back one more time but I know he has a tough fight coming up.” Marquez faces Mike Alvarado on May 17th at the Forum in Inglewood. As for when Pacquiao will step into the ring again, Roach says, “They’re talking about a November date but nothing positive.”
Yeah, and most likely not at the MGM Grand.
“I don’t know if we’re allowed there now,” said Roach with a laugh.