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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Q&A: Freddie Roach

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By Wolfgang Schiffbauer caught up with world class trainer Freddie Roach earlier today to discuss the Pacquiao–Mayweather fiasco, Joshua Clottey, Shane Mosley and the newest addition to Roach’s stable of champions, WBA middleweight champion Felix Sturm from Cologne, Germany. The 49-years old Roach also talks about his past as an active fighter, his motivation about being a trainer and his battle with Parkinson disease.

What can you tell us about the whole Manny Pacquiao–Floyd Mayweather, Olympic style drug testing fiasco?

The thing is I am not giving in to Mayweather. He is not running the sport, the commissions do. If you let him run the sport, it’s like giving the first two rounds away. He doesn’t make the rules, the commissions and the sanctioning bodies make the rules. They have been doing that for a long time. Who the hell is Mayweather to tell us what to do? That’s not going to happen.

What are your thoughts on Manny’s new opponent Joshua Clottey?

I have been studying him quite a bit now. He is very strong and has a good chin but he makes too many fundamental mistakes and I think Manny will be the first person to knock him out.

How far along training camp is Pacquiao right now?

He is already in good shape. The first day he came in the gym, he weighed around 147 pounds already. We have to keep the weight up and feed him five meals a day just to keep it up. He is doing great in sparring and we are studying his game plan as we watch Clottey tapes. He’s not ready to fight yet but we have about four and a half weeks till fight night and he will be ready then.

Now that Mayweather signed his contract, what do you think about his upcoming bout against Sugar Shane Mosley?

It is a very good fight. I take Mayweather by decision; I think he will outbox Mosley. But it is a competitive bout and Shane always shows up to fight. Well, I’m glad to see it happen but I am waiting to hear if Mayweather will make him take the drug tests, too. He has a history of drugs. So why would he ask us and not somebody else? It is crazy. I don’t know about this guy.

As far as I know, Mosley agreed to do the testing and they made a statement to the press that both fighters will under-go random blood tests in the weeks leading up to May 1st.

They said it, but they haven’t hired the company to do it yet. So we’ll see.

Is it something special for you to work the corner of a main event fighter in front of 40,000 fans in a football stadium?

No, it’s all the same. I don’t see the crowd; I don’t get caught up in that. It’s natural that all the people come and watch. My job is to take care of the fighter and that’s what I am concentrating on. However, Cowboys Stadium is big and beautiful and it is great to be the first one to fight there. Hopefully, we can do something like this on a regular basis. Vegas is fun, too but Texas has a good commission, it is very professional. But I don’t really care where we fight, in Germany or America or wherever.

Is Manny Pacquiao the best fighter you ever worked with?

No, but Pacquiao is the most dedicated guy I have ever worked with and also the most improved fighter from day one to now.

Who is the best fighter then?

Well, you know, I trained natural fighters like James Toney, I worked with Mike Tyson. I can’t really judge who the best fighter was, technique-wise. But as far as improvement and will-to-win, Manny is probably the best at that.

It was recently announced that you will work with WBA middleweight champion Felix Sturm. Why did you choose to train him?

Well, he is a very good fighter. When I trained Wladimir Klitschko in Germany, he was the only one who was coming to me in the gym besides Klitschko and I like him.

How good a fighter is he?

He is a great fighter. I mean, he came to America and basically beat a prime Oscar de la Hoya. He’s got all the skills in the world, I think he needs a little more offense and I am an offensive-minded guy, so I think we will work well together.

How do you want to improve him?

There isn’t really a need for improvement. We have to adjust a couple things, so he can throw more combinations and use his natural skills to their full extend.

Will you stay in Germany before his fights?

Yes, for as long as I can I will.

Isn’t that a problem with your friends, your family or with Wild Card gym?

No, I went to training camp with Manny Pacquiao a couple times already. I go into camp with world champions and special people when I have the time, so it is no problem.

What are your goals with Felix Sturm?

I want to get him back to America, have him fight the likes of Kelly Pavlik and become the undisputed middleweight champion of the world.

Will you have him spar Pacquiao or other Wild Card boxers in L.A.?

I’m sure he will come over for sparring. I get all kinds of sparring in here. We have a lot of good guys at the gym. In early training stages he might be coming to L.A. and when we get closer to the fight, we will go back to Germany. But it depends on where the fight is. I haven’t tried to get him and Pavlik together and we might not do that yet but I am sure that the fight will be in America when it happens and so he’ll train here for the whole training camp. So it’ll just be back and forth, depending on our schedules.

Tell us something about your own active boxing career.

I was more of a tough guy; I tried really hard and exchanged a lot. It worked well for when I was young but when I got older it wasn’t quite as effective. I fought world champions like Hector Camacho and Bobby Chacon. My career was good; it taught me a lot about boxing. I just found something that I am better at and that’s training fighters. Thanks to my mentor Eddie Futch and my father, they taught me this game and thanks to them I think it is why I’m successful. I was taught by very good people.

What is your motivation about being a trainer?

My motivation is improving people. If I can improve a fighter, I will do it. I probably have too many fighters right now but I have trouble saying no because I want to help anyone if I can. I know the sport very well; I’ve been doing this since I was six years old. It’s all I know, it’s all I do. I don’t have any other hobby because I don’t have time for any of them.

While everyone agrees that you are one of the best boxing trainer’s of the world, your achievements become even more stunning considering your fight with Parkinson disease. How do you keep up such great work with your fighters while suffering from such a bad illness?

The thing is I take my medication; I won’t let it get into my way. Yesterday, I did 50 rounds of mitts in a row with 14 of my fighters and twelve rounds with Pacquiao. I can do this all day long, I’m happy here. I won’t let Parkinson take any of that away and I refuse to even acknowledge it. I’m fine.


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