Trainer of Manny Pacquiao and future Hall of Famer Freddie Roach took part in an international media call on Wednesday to discuss Pacquiao’s November 23 comeback fight against Brandon Rios in Macau, China.
Below is what Freddie had to say about Pacquiao’s comeback fight against Rios.
FREDDIE ROACH: Training camp has been going great. We have been sparring very well. We have six rounds to spar tomorrow and four rounds on Saturday then we are going to head to Macau Monday afternoon after training. We are 90% ready. We have the game plan down. We know how we are going to fight Brandon Rios. He’s a taller guy and we have been watching the tapes of his last 10 fights. We have a great game plan and Manny knows how to fight this fighter and I believe it’s going to be a great night for the Philippines.
Freddie, I understand you gave Manny the day off today, is he looking that good?
FREDDIE ROACH: He is doing really good. He had a great run in the morning. He did a lot of sprints and had a great run. When he came into the gym, he looked a little tired and I said, “you know Manny, you can take the day off. Go home and get some rest.” I think what has happened here is weighing on his mind so I gave him the day off since he had the great run and we can pick it back up tomorrow.
Do you have heightened anticipation since Manny is coming off back-to-back losses?
FREDDIE ROACH: I think it is a situation where he has to look impressive in this fight and we are doing everything possible to do that. We have Manny’s mind on the right path I believe. He knows he has to look impressive in the fight and he knows Brandon Rios is coming off of a loss also. We can’t give into him at all in this fight.
After watching what Ruslan Provodnikov has done to his opponents, how do you feel about the rough sparring sessions Manny had with him?
FREDDIE ROACH: He always did real well and Manny handles Ruslan in the beginning of the sparring. But then Ruslan, of course, learned how to fight Manny. It was great work for both guys and I don’t think it was too hard on Manny. We had two sparring partners, four actually, but two left. We have had tough guys because Rios is a tough kid. We cut the sparring down quite a bit – we average about 150 rounds but now we do 110 – we didn’t need the wear and tear at this point in his career.
So the typhoon did not touch you guys. Has Manny been thinking about this great tragedy and has it affected training?
FREDDIE ROACH: Training has been going well and he’s trying to keep his focus on boxing but I did talk to Manny today about it and on Sunday we took some trainers and other fighters down to visit the kids in Baguio, but for him to go down there now, it’s way too close to the fight and he needs to buckle down and stay in the gym for the moment.
How do you feel Rios will be in the fight? Do you still feel he will charge forward?
FREDDIE ROACH: The more I see of Rios in the tapes the better I feel. He’s just a tough guy and tough guys don’t win fights. Manny can outbox him and he can do it with ease.
Have you seen anything in camp that would show you he has slipped a little bit? To put the knockout behind him?
FREDDIE ROACH: He has definitely put the knockout behind him. Manny Pacquiao knows that the knockout is part of the sport. He realizes that if you aren’t able to handle the knockout you picked the wrong sport. He is totally recovered and is brave as ever in the ring. We had a good session on Tuesday – we went eight-rounds with two tough guys – one a little bit bigger and one a little bit stronger - and Manny’s doing great.
What do you say to the skeptics that say this is the end for Manny Pacquiao?
FREDDIE ROACH: Well, Manny was fighting one of the best fights he has fought in a long time. At the time he fell into the punch- those things happen. Whether it was a lucky punch, Marquez was throwing a lot of punches. The thing, in that fight, if Manny had waited one second more, Manny was going to win that fight by knockout. Nothing carried over. Manny has looked great in training. I know people are skeptical about him but knockouts are what they are. Manny Pacquiao is a realist. He understands it is part of the sport. He’s been knocked out twice before – I remember him showing me the tapes when we first started working together and I said, “I don’t want to see those knockouts. You know what happened.” So he accepts that and I don’t think it’s going to affect him AT ALL. But we probably won’t know until the fight.
Do you feel it is overblown? Everyone except the judges thought Manny beat Bradley then the one punch against Marquez. We could be sitting here saying Manny won his last two fights…
FREDDIE ROACH: Definitely. That’s why I don’t think it will bother him any. He does realize that it is part of the sport. To be honest with you, when I was knocked out for the first time, it changed my whole career, because I was never as brave as Manny. I loft my self confidence. But Manny is not like me. Manny is a realist and he accepts it. I know everybody doesn’t think the same way, but since he accepts it, it doesn’t bother him.
Can you talk about the time difference?
FREDDIE ROACH: Well, we get up early in the morning and we are running then we train in the afternoon and we are getting him used to having two meals before the fight and I think that’s a big factor, as long as he gets those two meals in him it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. We’ll be ready to fight. We are in the same time zone as China, in the Philippines so we don’t have to worry about that change. We do get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and we’re on the road by 4:30. We get a meal in him in the morning then a small lunch before the afternoon workout and it’s been working out really well.
As a Congressman, has the disaster distracted Manny even though it was not near, has he gotten calls? Meetings or conference calls?
FREDDIE ROACH: We have had a lot of calls about the tragedy of course. We talk about it in the gym a little bit with the other trainers and taking the people down like we did in Baguio. He told me he wanted to go down on Sunday but it’s too close to the fight for him to take any time off and we talked about that. He is focused on the fight still but obviously it is a big distraction because it killed all of those people. We do talk about it in the gym – about how many people got killed in the storm and how many more have been affected. He is concerned about it yes, very much, but I think we have him pretty much on track on the fight. He knows it’s a big fight and he knows it’s a must-win situation and it’s bigger than that because he has to win for the country also, not just his boxing career, he knows he has to win for the people and he told me that yesterday. They seem to be inspiring each other.