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
Sam Janes – Leicester
Last weekend we saw OnTheBeak’s top two Pound for Pound fighters enter the ring for the first time in 2013, with Floyd Mayweather Jr outclassing Robert Guerrero over 12 after Wladimir Klitschko overpowered and eventually knocked Francesco Pianeta out in the sixth. Both men retained their Ring Magazine titles and further more cemented their status as untouchable in their own weight class.
Former Playboy model and ex world champion Mia St. John (47-12-2, 18ko) arrived in Frederikshavn recently. The female boxing legend will battle it out with unbeaten Norwegian superstar Cecilia Braekhus (21-0, 5ko), who holds the WBA, WBO and WBC female welterweight titles.
“It’s great to be in Denmark,” St. John said at the official press conference at Arena Nord. “Cecilia is the best fighter in the world, pound-for-pound she is the number one, but when I enter the ring to fight, I want to win. She is younger, but I have much more experience. I fight very intelligently. I have been in her position before – being the favourite, fighting at home with my fans supporting me… and then I lost. This is boxing, everything can happen, there are upsets all the time. I am here to win and take her titles.”
The First Lady was happy to return to the place of her biggest success. Braekhus said: “This is where I defeated Anne-Sophie Mathis, so of course it’s good to be back at Arena Nord. But that was seven months ago, all I am thinking about now is Mia St. John. She is a legend in the US and it’s an honour to fight her. I have trained hard to be in top shape. I know she wants my titles, but she won’t get them. I will defeat her.”
Per Malmberg, CEO Arena Nord, said: “We look forward to hosting the Nordic Fight Night again and welcoming many international fans to Frederikshavn. There will be lots of Norwegians in town and for Cecilia the old saying will be very true – it´s good to be a Norwegian in Denmark!”
Said Nisse Sauerland: “It’s great to be back in Frederikshavn. We have three title fights, WBA, WBC and WBO female welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus against American legend Mia St. John, undefeated European cruiserweight champion Mateusz Masternak versus Sean Corbin for the WBC international silver title and Swedish sensation Erik Skoglund versus Luke Blacklegde for the WBC youth light heavyweight title. Plus local hero Torben Keller and exciting Danish fighters like Micki Nielsen and Dennis Ceylan. It will be a great night of boxing in Frederikshavn.”
Nielsen has faced a late opponent change – he will take on Toni Visic from Croatia. Kristoffer Storm will also fight Simen Smaadal.
Kell Brook will challenge Devon Alexander for the IBF welterweight title at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on May 18. The long-awaited clash between Brook and Alexander has been cancelled twice due to both men succumbing to training injuries, but now ‘The Special One’ from Sheffield and number one rated contender finally gets the chance to face the champion, and he’s determined to rip the title from his hands.
“It’s been a frustrating wait for the fight to be on, but now I’m ready to get in there on May 18 and bring that title home,” said Brook. “We’ve both had to pull out through injury so we are both hungry for the fight, but I believe I will prove I’ve got a bigger appetite for the battle and that I’ll be too good for him.”
St. Louis’ Devon Alexander (24-1, 13ko) has already won world titles in two divisions despite being only 25 years old. Alexander is the former IBF and WBC world title holder at 140 pounds, with wins over Lucas Matthysse, Juan Urango and Junior Witter to his name. In 2012, ‘The Great’ made his move to welterweight and by the time he was finished defeating Marcos Maidana and Randall Bailey, he was crowned the IBF welterweight world champion.
The clash with Brook will be Alexander’s first defence of his IBF crown.
With the fire to compete still burning brightly, former three division world champion and future Hall of Famer Sugar Shane Mosley will return to the boxing ring on Saturday, May 18 to square off against highly regarded welterweight contender Pablo Cesar “El Demoledor” Cano in a temporary venue which will be set up on the beach in front of The Grand Oasis in Cancun, Mexico.
Five-division world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr, 36, released a 95-second long window into his training regimen earlier today, Thursday, April 5, on his official YouTube channel. The 43-0-0, 26ko welterweight, a defensive specialist, takes on mandatory WBC challenger Robert Guerrero for the 147lb belt on May 4, one year minus a day since Money’s last outing; a successful decisioning of respected Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto.
(Video embedded above credit – YouTube, FloydMayweather)
Photo Credit: Stacey Verbeek – Maple Avenue Boxing Gym, Dallas
Filipino belt-collector Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38ko) and Mexican ring legend Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1, 39ko) trade blows for a fourth time on Saturday, December 8 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The two have fought for 36 rounds already and, despite only a modicum of interest when the match-up was first announced, Top Rank Boxing promoter Bob Arum today confirmed that the Arena’s 16,000 seats have all sold which fetches $10.5m. Pacmania is officially upon us…
Alan Dawson – London
Photo credit: Mark Robinson/Showtime
On May 2, 2009, Manny Pacquiao defeated Ricky Hatton with a stunning left hook knockout in the second round of a Las Vegas showdown. By the Mancunian’s own admission, Pacquiao beat him into retirement, depression, a battle against alcohol and drugs and even became suicidal having also lost contact with his parents. His comeback to the ring, Hatton said this week, was an attempt to exorcise personal demons but, against Vyacheslav Senchenko on November 24, The Hitman failed to relive his glory days as he suffered a gut-wrenching knockout defeat due to a ninth round shot to the body.
Official verdict: Senchenko by 9th Rd KO.
Manchester City fan Hatton (45-3-0, 32ko) may have lost 70-80lbs in order to gain his welterweight physique but the affable former two-weight world champion kept every single one of his fans as 20,000 supporters at the Manchester Arena erupted into a raucous hysteria when the melody and lyrics of “Blue Moon” filled the ground. Senchenko (33-1-0, 22ko) did himself well in playing up to the role of visiting villain as the once-defeated 147lber wore a Manchester United strip to the ring.
While Senchenko demonstrated an understanding and appreciation of a: the jab and b: the counter right, the main motif of the opening round was Hatton’s trademark focus to the body both with the jab, but mainly the left mitt to the gut. Hatton continued to pressure Vyacheslav in the second round, however, when it came to timing, the Englishman’s three-year absence from the professional circuit became apparent. He also walked into punches but his sheer activity… his bulldogged attitude, forthright behaviour and his relentlessness overcame Senchenko’s work.
In the third and fourth rounds, Senchenko began play-acting and taunted Hatton whenever Ricky landed. Any smirk, though, was wiped off of his face when Hatton punched hard to the midsection. Hatton’s frenetic pace slowed somewhat in the fourth and, because he kept his jabbing mitt so wayward, he was vulnerable to an overhand right. Senchenko, however, at this point in the fight was not the fighter who would capitalise on this and embark on a calculated offensive. Hatton, meanwhile, came into his own toward the end of the fourth, stealing the round in the process.
While Senchenko may have lost the fourth, he certainly won the fifth as the visiting pugilist took advantage of Hatton’s refusal to move his head by jabbing accurately. Hatton was also coming off second best when it came to the tactical battle and, by the bout’s midway point, Senchenko – who was bleeding from the cheek/eye – had found range and rhythm. That success was largely because the fast pace Hatton fought with at the start of the fight had depleted considerably, but not to the point where he was in danger. Hatton, 34, still felt he was a few punches away from closing the show and lunged with left hands.
Hatton, like Senchenko, was looking the part of a man in a fight. He was marked but not cut like Vyacheslav was. Senchenko, though, was having his say from a number of angles and regardless of whether the fight was boxed on the inside, or from distance. Senchenko came into his own as Hatton tired… perhaps a well constructed pre-fight gameplan. By the eighth round, Senchenko was boxing with authority and punishing Ricky with left hook/right straight combination punches.
While Hatton struck Senchenko with a couple notable shots in the ninth, Hatton’s comeback ended in distressing fashion as Senchenko powered a punch into Hatton’s body and The Hitman crumpled to his knees, unable to make the count, only rising to his feet one minute later, shedding tears in disappointment.
Ever popular, Hatton left the ring as he entered it. A hero in the minds of his fans who, despite defeat, continued to chant “There’s only one Ricky Hatton… one Ricky Hatton… walking along, singing along, walking in a Hatton wonderland”.
Following the official announcement of his defeat, Hatton told Primetime of his ‘heartbreak’: “I thought I was winning the fight, four rounds up. I caught him a couple of times. I put my body through hell [by] losing four and a half stone. I’m really heart-broken.
“I get my life back together but it’s just one shot. I’m heart-broken. He nailed me with a few early on. I think I was doing alright… he only lost his unbeaten record last time out but I’m just gutted. I wanted to fight for world titles and had to fight someone like that to get to world titles. I was enjoying it but I was finding it heavy weather. I’m a champion and I’m a fighter.”
Hatton, with severe purple bruising over his cheek, concluded by ambiguously commenting on his immediate future: “I’m going to have a proper think about things as that’s not the way my career should end.”
Welterweight ace Ronnie Heffron is aiming to destroy his hero Ricky Hatton‘s gym mate Denton Vassell on Friday, 30 November to become Commonwealth champion. The 22-year-old Oldham fighter faces unbeaten champion Vassell on the big Manchester Arena card that features the professional heavyweight debut of former cricketer Freddie Flintoff.
Hatton makes his return to the ring tomorrow night, also at the Manchester Arena, against Vyacheslav Senchenko and Bob Shannon, trainer of Hatton and Vassell, has said that with Vassell training alongside The Hitman it has shown him what’s needed to get to the top.
But special talent Heffron, who’s unbeaten in eleven fights, and has been hailed as the new Ricky Hatton with his exciting, all-action, style says this won’t help him: “Ricky’s a big hero of mine, as well as a lot of other boxers of my generation, and one of the main reasons that I got into boxing,” said Heffron. “I used to go to all his big fight nights in Manchester and said that one day that will be me in there headlining the big cards and now I’m there in the main event against Vassell.
“I know that Ricky’s been training and sparring with Vassell and giving him advice which has probably given him a boost, but that won’t do him any good when he’s in the ring against me. At the end of the day it’s just me and him in there. No disrespect to Vassell, he’s unbeaten and the champion, but this is my time now where I come out and prove that I’m the real thing by ripping the title from him.
“It’s going to be a great fight for the fans and BoxNation viewers, I’m sure Flintoff will be a big hit in his pro debut, but the fight fans will get a real tear up between me and Vassell.”
Hatton is coming off a 3½ year layoff. Do you think you’re catching him at the right time?
“When I made the decision to fight Ricky I did it expecting the best Ricky Hatton. We know Ricky wouldn’t have come back if he wasn’t at his best – that’s just how boxing is. Ricky wouldn’t have taken the risk if he didn’t think he was 100 percent. So we’re expecting a very hard fight. We’re expecting the best Ricky Hatton, a prime Ricky Hatton.”
This is just your third fight outside your native Ukraine. How do you prepare for a fight in front of 18,000 hostile fans?
“I’m very excited that I’m going to Manchester to fight in front of a huge crowd. I had a great camp and prepared the way I always do. It’s an opportunity to shine and show the British my skills. Sure, there will 18,000 Ricky Hatton fans, but once I’m in the ring it’s just me and Ricky. The fans aren’t in there with him.”
Hatton beat Malignaggi, and Malignaggi defeated you. Why will you upset Hatton?
“When I fought Paulie everything went well in the beginning and then I got injured and I couldn’t apply the plan we had scheduled in training. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. It was a one-time thing because of the injury. I had a good training camp and was able to prepare well, but I got injured. Those things happen in boxing. I thought I fought well but I just couldn’t see anything because the eye was completely closed. Of course, Paul was an odd boxer to fight. Ricky’s fighting style suits me better. I believe it will be a better fight for me. I’ve had a great camp and I’m ready to get back into the limelight with a win.”
What were the main reasons you accepted the fight against Hatton in England?
“This is the way to come back in the limelight – to beat one of the most popular boxers in the world. It would bring me back in the top position, worldwide. If I beat Ricky then I can get another shot at a title. Once you’re in the ring it’s just you and the opponent. The challenge is to show the 18,000 that I’m the best boxer in the ring.”
Can you tell us the keys to victory?
“We need a good jab, a good jab when the opponent comes in — and good legs and sharp punching. I’m an old-school, classical boxer so I need to be able to control the fight. I like boxers that come in rather than run away. If I can dictate the pace and not allow Ricky to get into a rhythm, I should be able to execute my strategy and do what I prepared for in camp.”
Do you think you’ll need to knock him out to win a fight in England?
“I’ve got to fight my own game plan. I’m not looking for a knockout; I’m looking for a good, technical fight. A good, distance fight. If I can stop the fight early on that would be good, but I’ll take the points. As long as I don’t get injured I should be fine. There’s no problem with the eye, it was a one-time thing with Paulie. I’ve never had another problem since.”