By Marc Livitz: Pound for Pound great Manny Pacquiao and his trainer, International Boxing Hall of Fame elect Freddie Roach took part in a brief yet insightful international media conference call today from their home base of Hollywood, California.
On June 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Pacquiao will defend his WBO welterweight title when he faces undefeated junior welterweight champion, Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley. According to Roach, the “Pac Man’s” training camp has been a memorable one not only in Los Angeles, but in Pacquiao’s secondary training site in Baguio City, Philippines. He assured those on the line that Manny is prepared for the tough challenge presented by his young and strong opponent. “It’s been a great camp. We’ve had several weeks in Baguio and then on to LA. Manny’s focus is the best I’ve ever seen. We’re going against a tough and undefeated guy, but we’ve seen some holes in his defense and we will take advantage of them.”
Timothy Bradley (28(12)-0) has gained somewhat of a reputation within the ring for using his head as a weapon. A number of his bouts have involved sometimes serious instances of headbutts. Freddie Roach quickly addressed this issue. Said the ever popular trainer, “We’re doing what we can to try to nullify it. Of course, if a southpaw fights a right handed fighter, then it happens.”
Manny Pacquiao still cannot escape the constant canvassing and scrutinization associated with his last fight. His third contest versus Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez last November proved to be a very tough evening for the Filipino congressman. As in his previous two bouts with “Dinamita” Marquez (in 2004 and 2008, respectively), Pacquiao endured a tough outing against an opponent who seemed to have an answer for all that Manny could muster. There are many within the boxing world who still feel that Pacquiao in fact lost his third and second meetings with Marquez, if not all three bouts.
The courteous and always thoughtful Pacquiao was careful with his choice of words. “Yes, the fight was hard but I also had some family problems. I am in shape now. We understand that Marquez was just a great opponent.” Freddie Roach elaborated a bit on the champion’s comments when he added, “Juan Manuel Marquez will always give you trouble. He’s a smart boxer. The truth is that everything fell apart in the last week of camp and it showed with Manny’s performance, but he’s one hundred percent focused for this one.”
Manny Pacquiao has the distinction of being an eight-division world champion. The question always arises about how he handles the fluctuation of pounds as he moves up and down in weight. He briefly addressed this topic this afternoon. “It’s not easy, but I try my best to make the weight comfortably. It’s always hard to get another belt in the other divisions. I have to eat more and do more weight training.” Freddie Roach further stressed the issue when he added, “It’s always one of the bigger challenges and we just have to feed him more than five protein shakes a day. He has performed very well in those weight classes. He’s handled it fine and we did it the right way. It’s worked out great for all of us.”
Roach indicated that the turnaround in Manny’s life has greatly contributed to his performance and attitude in training camp. Once known for his late night getaways and marathon pool sessions, Pacquiao has returned himself to his strong Catholic beliefs and cut out all diversions. Freddie commented, “It’s been a great change. We don’t have him coming in tired anymore. No more nightlife, just bible study. He’s a one hundred percent better athlete without any distractions. We are fired up and ready to go. We brought in four new sparring partners and we are right where we need to be.”
Sharing the line with Pacquiao and Roach was legendary promoter Bob Arum (Top Rank Promotions). Mr. Arum was asked if he felt any pressure to match or surpass the pay TV numbers reached by Floyd Mayweather, Jr.’s fight with Miguel Cotto earlier this month. He brushed off the concerns as but a mere nuisance. Said Arum, “We aim to get the biggest possible numbers that we can get, but we operate with a different business model. It’s (Mayweather’s numbers) irrelevant to us. It varies from fight to fight. When Manny fought Juan Manuel Marquez, the (pay per view) numbers were certainly much greater than when Mayweather fought (Victor) Ortiz. He (Mayweather) also fought Miguel Cotto, who has great pay per view numbers on his own.”
Arum also commented on Pacquiao’s religious revival and the possibility of a fourth matchup with Marquez, possibly in November.
“Overall, Manny is not as tired or worn as he was. His religious awakening has been all for the good. I’m a little biased because I’m a religious person. (On the idea of Pacquiao/Marquez IV) Everything is on the table, but he (Pacquiao) has Bradley right now. We will look at all possibilities after the fight. I don’t discuss the future with Manny until after his fight is done.”
Timothy Bradley is a unique opponent for Pacquiao. Although he holds an unbeaten record, Freddie Roach is not yet convinced that the fighter from Palm Springs, CA will exactly give Manny the fight of his life. Said Roach, “Bradley is not a good counter puncher and he comes forward. After watching lots of tape of Bradley, I am sure that we’ll be able to handle him.”