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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Freddie Roach: Manny Pacquiao 'Really Wants to Knock Floyd Out'

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2/04/2010 5:00 AM ET By Lem Satterfield

Freddie Roach was recently named Trainer Of The Year by The Boxing Writers' Association of America, and his prized pupil, Manny Pacquiao, was named Fighter of The Year -- both for 2009.

The honors were bestowed for the third, and, fourth times in a row, respectively, upon Pacquiao and Roach. Pacquiao also was named Fighter Of The Decade by the BWAA.

Reached at his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., Roach, in this Q&A, discussed the most recent events involving the failed negotiations for a fight with Floyd Mayweather, the Mayweather camp's accusations of steroid use by Pacquiao, and the seven-division titlist's March 13 defense of his WBO welterweight (147 pounds) crown against Joshua Clottey.

FanHouse: So how does it feel to receive Trainer Of The Year for the fourth straight time?

Freddie Roach: It's my favorite award, because it's named after my trainer, [the late] Eddie Futch, my mentor. And, I like to give Eddie all of the credit for where I am today. I just love winning the award. I was the first one to win it three times, and now, I've won it four. I'm going to keep working my a** off to win it again, and again, if I can.

FH: Maybe they should name it the Eddie Futch-Freddie Roach Award?

Roach: [Chuckles] Maybe someday.

FH: Seriously, Freddie, you've overcome a lot, personally, with the Parkinson's, and I wonder if you ever think about who might be watching you and being inspired by you?

Roach: It's just that we work hard at the gym. Everyone works together, and we have a good team. Some days, when I'm really busy with some fighters, I have a lot of guys that pick up the slack. It's a good situation. My gym's just really active, and the other thing is that I'm so thankful to a guy like Eddie Futch, who taught me the ropes inside the ring and outside of the ring.

He taught me first, as a fighter, and then, I worked as an assistant to him for five years. And he taught me how to train fighters and how to get to them, and it's worked out really well for me.

FH: Can you talk about what it means to you to have Manny win the Fighter Of The Year honors for the third time?

Roach: Manny, he deserves it. Getting Fighter of The Decade also, that's a great honor for him. It's funny, his work ethic from Day One until today has not changed. It amazes me that he can still come through the gym doors and all of the distractions go away, and he's 100 percent focused on the next fight.

FH: Manny arrived in Los Angeles recently this time from the Philippines on Jan. 17 -- which was Muhammad Ali's 68th birthday and the day prior to the observation of Martin Luther King's birthday. Do you see any symbolism there at all, considering what Manny means in stature to his Filipino people?

Roach: It's can be a coincidence, but the thing is, Manny just means so much to his people. The thing is, he fights for them because he doesn't want to disappoint them. I think that's where he gets his fire from. It comes from his people. He wants to win for them, and to do the best that he can. Obviously, he wants to improve his country also, and that's why he's running for congress and getting into politics.

I think that he can do more for his country as a boxer rather than a politician, but he just wants to do the best that he can for his people. He's an amazing person.

FH: Has it been difficult to transition from preparing for a slick, boxer-type of fighter like Floyd Mayweather to preparing for a rugged fighter like Joshua Clottey?

Roach: The thing is, we work hard for everybody we get a chance to face. That hasn't really changed. What changed is the sparring parteners and the style that we're fighting and the gameplan, of course. The thing is, focusing on Clottey is completely opposite from what we were going to do. The thing is, you just have to get a mindset in there that we're not fighting Floyd Mayweather now.

We have to get ready for a guy that is going to come to us and fight us, possibly. It's a little disappointing that we didn't get Mayweather, but we're not going to sit around and dwell on it. We're going to go with the biggest challenges that we can find out there, and Manny doesn't want to fight just any fight, but he wants to fight the best out there.

I'd love it if Floyd and Manny could come to an agreement someday soon, and hopefully that can happen. But if not, Manny could retire and go right into politics.

FH: What do you see as strengths and weakness of Joshua Clottey? (pictured at far right, with Pacquiao)

Roach: Well, he's got a good chin, and he takes a good shot, and he can be a little heavy-handed. But he can be passive at times, and he lays on the ropes and kind of rests there a little bit. I've been studying him really well, and he makes too many mistakes. Pacquiao, I truly feel will be the first person to knock Clottey out.

FH: Has Manny faced anyone with his combination of endurance, accuracy and speed on his punches?

Roach: Clottey's accurate if you stand in front of him, but the thing is, we're going to be in and out and side to side and use our angles on him. He's not going to be able to catch us. It's going to be very similar to the Oscar De La Hoya fight [Eighth-round knockout for Pacquiao] I feel. He's a very tall, comes to you type of guy, who is supposed to be stronger.

But I don't think that that will be the case. I think when the fight time comes off, Manny will be the bigger, stronger guy because he has the bigger heart.

FH: How significant is it that there is no catchweight for this fight, as there was a requirement for Miguel Cotto to come in at no greater than 145 pounds, and that you are going with the welterweight limite of 147 pounds?

Roach: Well, we got a little flack for going with a catchweight last time, so Manny wants to be a true welterweight, so Manny is going to fight at 147. We're not going back to 140, we're going to stay where we're at. And if anyone wants to challenge us, it'll be at welterweight.

FH: How much does Manny consider going for an eighth title in a different weight class -- the rise to 154 pounds beyond the Joshua Clottey fight?

Roach: Well, the fight against [WBA junior middleweight (154 pounds) champ] Yuri Foreman was offered, and so forth, and Manny was just interested in more challenges.

Yuri was more of a boxer, and Manny doesn't want to be in a boring fight. So, 154 might be stretching it a little bit. I think that 147 is as high as we're really going to go. But you know, we'll see what presents itself after this fight. If Mayweather doesn't come around, Manny might retire.

FH: What did you think of the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, where the fight will be held?

Roach: It was amazing. It was just unbelievable. The big screen over the field, the people, it was a great place. It's a really, really nice stadium. It's going to be huge with the fight being there, and there's a lot of stuff going on in Dallas right now.

[Cowboys' owner] Jerry Jones wants to bring the best athletes into the stadium, and you know, Manny Pacquiao's one of the best athletes in the world right now, and that's why Jerry Jones picked this fight.

FH: How will it be different for you being in Dallas Cowboys' Stadium, considering most of Manny's biggest victories have been in Las Vegas.

Roach: We have a lot of good memories of Vegas, but we have one good memory of Texas also. That's where we got our one big break and we knocked out Marco Antonio Barrera in Texas [in the 11th round in November, 2003, at The Alamodome.]
Texas has always been good to us. Regardless of where the ring is, it's still the same size, so we have no problem traveling.

Manny just likes to fight. If we fight in Manila, his home town, it doesn't really matter. He's going to go out and fight his fight. We've got a good gameplan down already for this one, and, he's pulling it off in sparring already, and he's looking really good. He's way ahead of schedule. His weight's already getting down there low right now.

He's already at 146, so we'll get some protein shakes out there and start feeding him.

FH: On the matter of steroids, why do you believe those suspicions were leveled at Manny by some members of the Mayweather camp?

Roach: Well, they have no foundation or no history. It's just they say, 'How can a guy go from 106 all the way to 147 without being on steroids?' But if you take that thinking into consideration, now, at age 16, Floyd Mayweather fought in the amateurs at 106, and then he went to 154 [to fight Oscar De La Hoya,] so he must be on steroids too, I guess?

But I'm not going to say that, because he's just a good fighter, and I respect that. The thing is, it's not unusual for the best fighters of their era to dominate many different weight divisions because that's where all of the challenge are.

FH: Do you buy the notion that Floyd was afraid of losing for the first time in his career?

Roach: No. I think that he was just trying to make the fight bigger. I think that he's trying to make the Pacquiao fight bigger down the line. I think that he's just doing his thing.

FH: What do you believe that all of the Manny Pacquiao fans in the Philippines thought of the entire steroid drama related to the Mayweather-Pacquiao negotiations?

Roach: You've got people out there who want to go along with the notion of, 'Well, he's so good, that he must be on steroids,' because it was said once. And the thing is, just by that, people can think that you're guilty. Of course, we have no history. I have trouble giving Manny Pacquiao vitamins.

The Mayweathers are just trying to tarnish his reputation, so Manny's not very happy with them right now, and he really wants to knock Floyd out. That's what he told me. That's the first time that I've really seen him angry with a fighter. He says, 'If we fight, I will knock Floyd out.'


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