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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Roach dead sure of Pacquiao win

LAS VEGAS— THEY’VE WORKED TOGETHER for eight years, but master trainer Freddie Roach continues to be amazed by Manny Pacquiao’s development as a fighter.

After working the mitts with his prized ward, once a one-dimensional heavy hitter who has evolved into the world’s best fighter, at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood Monday, Roach couldn’t help but feel proud.

“Manny was really, really good today, his focus was beautiful,” said Roach. “That will win us the fight. I just can’t wait for this fight. Hundred percent? Yes.”

Pacquiao and British foe Ricky Hatton made spectacular public arrivals before cheering supporters on Tuesday in Las Vegas (See related story on page A1), starting the countdown for their world junior welterweight title showdown this Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

Roach, a three-time Trainer of the Year, said they have covered all the bases in Pacquiao’s eight-week training camp and have figured out how to systematically bring down Hatton, who is still unbeaten at 140 lb.

“The key to winning this fight is not to go fight him (Hatton) straightforward and fight his fight, to give and take,” Roach told Manila-based sportswriters on Monday.

“Give it to him and take it away. The in-and-out movement and side to side are the keys to this fight. We’ll not fight the typical Pacquiao fight when we go forward. Manny has progressed beyond that. He knows how to fight both ways now.”

According to Roach, Pacquiao will be initiating the moves, but the tempo (of the bout) will be up to Hatton.

“If (Hatton) wants to come forward, we’ll let him come in to our traps,” the trainer said. “If he wants to come, we’ll walk him in.”

Roach also dismissed the notion that the way he and rival trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. honed their fighters will decide the outcome of the bout projected to make Pacquiao richer by at least $15 million (about P720 million).

“The reason why we will win this fight is because I have the better fighter,” Roach added. “It has nothing to do with the trainers. Sometimes he (Mayweather Sr.) gets under my skin, I’ll talk back because I’m not gonna take it.”

While Roach conceded that Hatton is also in great shape, he still believed Pacquiao will emerge the winner: “When the bell rings, Manny fights. I sit down, it’s up to Manny to win the fight, and I’m sure he’ll do it.”

Roach said Pacquiao will open up right at the opening bell, box Hatton and frustrate him with his speed and footwork.

“If Hatton starts swinging from far away, no problem, Pacquiao will befuddle him with his speed,” Roach said.

Roach said that as soon as Hatton gets hit, Pacquiao will come forward just like he’s trained to do.

When Hatton charges, Roach said they will “keep on blocking the combinations until he’s knocked out.”

NOTES: Among those who tried but failed to come close to Pacquiao during his grand arrival at the Mandalay Bay Hotel were the members of the national team under Yugoslavian mentor Rajko Toroman. The team was led by SBP director Noli Eala... Chris Tiu, Pacquiao’s partner in the television program Pinoy Records on GMA-7, and composer Lito Camo are here to support Pacquiao. The odds of Pacquiao winning by knockout rose to minus 145, meaning a $145 bet will earn just $100.


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