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Post  Admin on Sat Dec 06, 2008 9:44 pm

Roach confident as Pacquiao prepares

By Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports Nov 26, 12:03 pm EST

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Freddie Roach has all but dedicated his professional life, as well as a lot of his personal life, to making Manny Pacquiao the finest boxer in the world.

When Roach and Pacquiao joined forces in 2001, Pacquiao had already won and then lost a world flyweight title. It didn’t take an expert’s eye to see that with his combination of speed, power and conditioning that Pacquiao had an opportunity to join the game’s elite.
Roach, though, believed that Pacquiao could do things that few others could do and that he could one day sit atop the pack. And so Roach assiduously went about teaching Pacquiao how to fight with better balance, how to put his punches in combination more effectively, how to develop a quality right-hand blow and how to use defense to set up his obviously overwhelming offense.
Even more impressive, though, was the work that Roach did in those years to protect Pacquiao’s financial interests. It was Roach whose advice and watchful eye led to the dissolution of his relationship with ex-promoter Murad Muhammad, whom Pacquiao accused of stealing millions of dollars.
It was Roach’s testimony that, in large part, led to Muhammad settling the 2005 case just as it was to head to the jury.
It’s no big deal to Roach, though, who says it’s all part of the job.
“Manny is like family,” Roach said. “I’d do anything for him. You do something for your family, you don’t expect people to talk about it like you’re a hero. It’s just what you should do.”
Roach isn’t so low-key when it comes to Pacquiao’s next fight, though. Pacquiao will face the biggest challenge of his career on Dec. 6, when he moves up from lightweight to face Oscar De La Hoya in a welterweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
The bout is the biggest of the year in boxing and promoters are hoping for more than 1 million pay-per-view sales, an extraordinary figure in the current economic climate.
Roach’s tiny Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, Calif., has been swarmed for the last two months as fans and media have descended in order to take a look at Pacquiao and get a word from Roach.

Roach was on the other side in what would become the largest-grossing fight in boxing history last year. Then, he was training De La Hoya for a 2007 bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
That bout did a record 2.44 million pay-per-view buys and generated more than $170 million in revenue.
Roach knew he’d be in the fishbowl again. He figured that though De La Hoya was aging, he still had a number of big-money fights he could take and Roach assumed he’d be at De La Hoya’s shoulder for each of them.
“Oscar looked me in the eye and he told me, ‘You know, Freddie, I’m never going to take another fight without you in my corner,’ ” Roach said. “When someone looks you in the eye and tells you something like that, you believe them. At least I do. Or at least I did.”
De La Hoya lost a split decision to Mayweather that Roach believes to this day could have gone De La Hoya’s way.
He didn’t like everything he saw, but figured he’d have an opportunity to correct the problems and make De La Hoya a better fighter the next time out.
“Things changed,” Roach said wistfully.
And Roach’s attitude toward De La Hoya was about to change dramatically. Only a few months after being told he’d be the Golden Boy’s trainer for life, Roach awakened one morning to discover he was out and that the man he’d replaced, Floyd Mayweather Sr., was back in.
De La Hoya was suddenly telling everyone who would listen that he’d never fight again without Mayweather Sr. in his corner.
Roach insists he wasn’t bothered, though the tone of his voice gives that away. He is angry and he finally has to admit it.
“He didn’t call me,” Roach said. “I found out by reading the newspaper. He called me later and talked to me, but the best way to find out isn’t by reading the paper. I thought we had a better relationship.”
He has no such problems with Pacquiao, who says Roach “is like a father to me.” But Roach is as intense for this fight as Pacquiao, who has worked feverishly to get into shape.
Bruce Trampler, Top Rank’s Hall of Fame matchmaker, watched Pacquiao work out on Tuesday and said he was amazed by the condition Pacquiao was in. He said he wished the remainder of the fighters in the Top Rank stable could have joined him to see Pacquiao, so they could understand what it truly means to be in shape.
Trampler’s words were a tribute to Roach as much as anything, because Pacquiao hasn’t always trained with such dedication. Roach, though, insisted upon a total commitment for the De La Hoya fight.
Roach was a middling featherweight during his boxing career, far more tough than talented. His courage knew no bounds, but he paid for it by taking extraordinary punishment. He now has Parkinson’s disease and takes a slew of medication each day to calm the tremors the disease, and his fighting career, have brought on.
Roach has been immersed in the fight since the day it’s been signed. He has tweaked De La Hoya frequently along the way, and pulled out a toy gun at one stop along the fight’s publicity junket, joking that De La Hoya had aged and could no longer pull the trigger.
De La Hoya is about a 2-1 favorite, and for obvious reasons. He’s about 20 pounds heavier naturally, has a four-inch height advantage and a six-inch reach edge over his Filipino rival, who has only fought one time as a lightweight. De La Hoya has fought his last nine bouts at super welterweight, which has a limit of 154 pounds, and hasn’t made welterweight, which the Dec. 6 bout will be contested at, since March 24, 2001.
Roach, though, is hardly concerned. He insists Pacquiao can win the bout and noted that De La Hoya had trouble hitting light flyweight champion Ivan Calderon when they sparred last year.
“I’m not sure if Oscar ever put a glove on Calderon,” Roach said. “I watched that and it stuck in my mind. Here was this little, quick guy we’d brought in so Oscar could be used to [Mayweather’s] quickness and he just couldn’t hit him. When they started talking to us about Manny fighting Oscar, I thought about that sparring he had with Calderon.
“The real quick guys were giving him trouble. I knew Manny would be a lot quicker than Oscar and I realized, ‘You know what, this is a good fight for Manny. This is a fight he could win.’ I was never worried about the size.”
There are many skeptics, most of whom have mocked De La Hoya for choosing a much smaller opponent rather than picking on someone like Antonio Margarito, the WBA welterweight champion who not only has been yearning for years for a fight against De La Hoya but was coming off a high-profile stoppage of previously unbeaten Miguel Cotto.
Roach wants the victory desperately, mostly because of what he knows it will mean for Pacquiao. Mayweather became a superstar after beating De La Hoya and earned spots on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and in the WWE’s WrestleMania by virtue of that victory.
A win, Roach knows, would have enormous implications for Pacquiao.
But after a little prodding, Roach conceded he may get a little more satisfaction out of a Pacquiao victory over De La Hoya than he ever has previously.
“Well, with all that has been said back and forth between Oscar and I, it would be embarrassing to lose,” Roach said, chuckling. “I guess it would be a little vindication if Manny were to win. I don’t feel like Oscar handled the situation between us the way a man should. He’s been blaming me for his loss. How could he blame me? But when Manny beats him, I’ll be able to look at Oscar and know that he won’t be able to blame me this time.”

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