By: William Holmes
May 2nd is less than two months away and the training camps of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are kicking into high gear.
Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach has been busy preparing his fighter for the toughest test of his career and a for a fight that they have been waiting for a very long time. Boxing Insider had the opportunity to talk to Freddie Roach in the middle of Pacquiao’s training camp.
Boxing Insider: How excited are you for this fight? How does the anticipation for this fight compare to some of Manny’s other big fights such as Marquez, De La Hoya, or Cotto?
Freddie Roach: Well you know, it’s so big this fight you know? It’s maybe the biggest one we’ve ever been in. I think we’re in a rough situation, if we don’t win this fight he goes down as the best in the world and we go down as bums. We’re training really hard and we have a great strategy for the fight and we have great sparring partners for the fight. . .Manny is on fire right now. He sparred yesterday, we just finished today, we were there for four hours and tomorrow we will spar again. I do have six sparring partners there right now and we mix them around and see who the best one is.
Boxing Insider: Who do you plan on bringing in for Manny as a sparring partner? Why did you choose them?
Freddie Roach: I didn’t want old, old, old, guys like Zab Judah and stuff like that to come in there and take a beating. I brought in contenders and up and coming fighters who will work really hard. I give them a little incentive and if they knock Manny down I give them $1,000 extra. We have to get Manny ready for whatever [Mayweather] brings to the table. Whatever he brings. I’ve got runners, I’ve got fighters, I’ve got strong guys, I’ve got fast guys. . . I’ve got six really good guys that I feel really confident with. And these young guys they fight with Manny Pacquiao, one of these guys will be a superstar one day I believe.
I don’t know which one, but that’s what happens. When I was 18 and I started sparring with Alex Aguello for four fights, I learned more from him than anyone else in my life. It’s really great for the kids and for everybody.
Boxing Insider: There were reports that stated that you had brought in Guillermo Rigondeaux as a sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao, but were later reported to be untrue. Did you ever consider asking Rigondeaux to be a sparring partner for Manny?
Freddie Roach: That’s a lie. Rigondeaux is a good friend of mine, but we’re not fighting a southpaw, we’re not fighting a counter puncher. . . Rigondeaux is a challenging kid, I trained him for several fights, he’s met Manny before. He did want to box with Manny when he came over getting ready for a different type of opponent, but that is completely untrue. I have no idea where that came from. Rigondeaux is a good friend of mine, I told him I would love to train him again last time I saw him and when Roc Nation signed him. Rigondeaux is a great guy, he’s just not the right style for this fight.
Boxing Insider: How does Manny look in camp so far?
Freddie Roach: He’s really, really, on fire. I’ve never seen him like this. He’s motivated, training hard, first day of sparring went well. I mean he hasn’t boxed in about eight months, but on the first day, I was very happy.
Boxing Insider: In your opinion, what was Manny’s biggest win of his career?
Freddie Roach: Manny’s biggest win. . . I think when he knocked out [Ricky] Hatton, I love that fight. I think Hatton was the best knockout, the best win was Oscar [La Hoya].
Boxing Insider: What about Floyd Mayweather’s style impresses you the most? Is there anything about Floyd Mayweather’s style that you think Manny can exploit?
Freddie Roach: We’re working on it every day, we watch tape every day, he’s not a perfect fighter. He sets traps very well but we recognize the traps and we know not to fall into the trap. He is very fast…his legs I think have given out a little bit, he has to take breath sometimes, he says he wants to exchange so the fans are happier but I don’t agree. I think he wants to and has to rest and I think he has to exchange because his legs are giving out on him. When Manny fought Algieri he would throw punches and run in circles the whole time, he has better legs than Mayweather and I think that will be the difference in the fight.
Boxing Insider: Can you tell us anything about your strategy to combat Floyd’s quick lead right followed by a move away?
Freddie Roach: Yes….we are working on it every day. Ummm, it’s one of his best weapon and of course we have to adjust to it.
Boxing Insider: Where do you rate Floyd Senior as a trainer?
Freddie Roach: Floyd Senior. . . I think Roger’s better, Roger has been with him more, Roger knows him better, Roger has been there a lot longer, I think Roger is a better trainer than the father. Floyd senior gets really excited and he stutters and he has a hard time getting his message out. But, I think Roger is better, he’s OK. but I don’t think he can be better than me to be honest with you, I’m not trying to be cocky or anything like this but I think I can know my fighters better than he does.
Boxing Insider: Who are some of the under the radar boxers in your stable that you think will become future world champions? Why?
Freddie Roach: Frankie Gomez is my best boxer. He will be a world champion. He’s 18-0, he’s a very good fighter, what I like about him is that when he gets in the ring he is mean. He wants to hurt people.
Boxing Insider: Do you have any concerns about Manny peaking too early for the fight because he’s been training so hard?
Freddie Roach: Well the thing is I know boxing well, I’ve done it for a long time, I was a fighter for a long time, we’re not going to overtrain. We definitely have a system and the system has been working very well for a long time and I think that I have 32 world champions that I work with. They’re all great but the system is very similar for all of them.
Boxing Insider: What’s your prediction for the fight?
Freddie Roach: I think Manny will knock Mayweather out. I think his speed and power is much better than his. Mayweather has fragile hands and doesn’t hit that hard anymore. He’s not a physical strong guy. Well, sometimes I see pimples on his back and I wonder why, but. . . I don’t know why he’s like that. I mean, if someone needs to cheat to win it’s not worth it.
Boxing Insider: Do you have a round as to when the fight will be stopped?
Freddie Roach: Well, we got him with a couple of counter punches, depending on what he brings to the table. Depends on how he comes out, it could be early or it could be late. He does have holes in his defense, he definitely does, especially against a southpaw.
Boxing Insider: Do you think Floyd will want a rematch after this fight?
Freddie Roach: We’ll be making a lot of money, I like it, yeah.
Boxing Insider: How much longer do you think Manny will continue to fight?
Freddie Roach: Maybe if he does alright, I think he has a couple of years left.
Boxing Insider: I’m sure you got the chance to watch some of Floyd Mayweather’s tapes…
Freddie Roach: That’s all I do, what are you talking about?
Boxing Insider: What was his most impressive win in your opinion?
Freddie Roach: Well, I’m going to watch tape today, but I still watch when him and Oscar fought. I trained Oscar to beat him, we won the first six rounds and we lost the last six rounds, and I know why that happened. I have to make sure that Manny doesn’t fall into that trap that Mayweather sets, and he hasn’t yet. When I set that trap he gets out every time.
Mayweather he’s a little bit clever right, but he doesn’t have a lot of moves, he doesn’t have a trainer. He barely doesn’t have anyone. . . .I don’t particularly think. . . it just comes naturally to him. He’s like my little brother Paul. He’s the best fighter in the house, but my mother wouldn’t let him fight because he’s had too many fights.
[Floyd’s] his own coach, he doesn’t have a lot of movement, he does have a lot of 5, 6, or 7. Every time he makes a move, he makes a mistake on the return. Manny will take advantage of that, I promise you.