Freddie Roach, the five-time Futch-Condon award winning coach of prized pupil Manny Pacquiao, always talks a good game when it comes to his Filipino legend but just how highly does he rate his elite fighter three weeks out from the southpaw’s rematch with WBO welterweight championship incumbent Timothy Bradley?
The 35-year-old is an all-round athlete with an unwavering determination to continue to succeed at the highest level in world boxing, underlined by his drive to bounce-back following his shock knockout loss to Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012, by scalping Brandon Rios the following year.
Soundly outpointing Rios in Macao, China, provides Pacquiao with a psychologically-crucial victory in the build-up to his do-over with Bradley – a fighter who, by rights, he should already have a win over but was denied the victory by inept judging at ringside, with controversial judge C.J Ross and Duane Ford both giving the nod to the American, offsetting Pacman’s sole winning card submitted by Jerry Roth.
“Manny was just brilliant in his sparring [recently],” proclaimed Roach. “His footwork was effortless, his hand speed was blazing and his power is as good as it’s ever been.”
The question of retirement will arguably dog Pacquiao in and around every fight he participates in from now on, perhaps largely due to the back-to-back losses he accrued against Bradley and Marquez, but also because he has a young man’s style and he is already mid-30s.
Regardless of recent results and age, expect Manny to be fired up to right his modern-day defeats. Currently fourth in Boxrec’s rankings, victory over Bradley (second at 147lbs) will lead to a fifth duel with Juan Manuel (third best welterweight in the world) later in the year.
“Manny is really motivated for this fight. We decided no matter how many fights we have remaining, we are determined to run the table and win every one. And when it is over it is going to be as world champion.”
By the end of the year, Pacquiao could have two A+ triumphs on his ledger and a 2014 CV that has the makings of a Fighter of the Year, however, he will still lag behind the number one in the division – Floyd Mayweather Jnr, who collides with Argentine hardass Marcos Maidana on May 3, Las Vegas.
Hopefully that fight happens… the interest will always be there when both men continue to fight, but as Roach says there may only be a few bouts left for Pacquiao so all Manny can do is make a statement of intent on fight night next month, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“Bradley said ‘Manny no longer has his killer instinct,’ which tells me that he is still suffering from the concussion Provodnikov laid on him,” quipped Roach.
While Roach jokes about their opponent being concussed, that statement of intent could precede a substantial punctuation mark if Pacquiao not only defeats Tim, but does so by knockout – in what would be his first stoppage win since Miguel Cotto, four years ago.
At that time, interest in a Floyd fight was at it’s strongest.
With another KO win, albeit a belated win, Pacquiao could be gaining some money momentum.
By Denzil Stone, Atlantic City