Feature Story

Roach: Finding the old Manny Pacquiao

Story by Andreas Hale
Photo by Chris Cozzone

Freddie Roach has been looking for the old Manny Pacquiao and he thinks he found him. You know, the Pacquiao that showed no mercy on his foes and mercilessly pounded them into submission. Not this “Compassionate Manny” as Roach likes to call him. We’ve see a lot of that Manny Pacquiao lately. He’s the guy who takes his foot off the opponent’s neck in fear that he will hurt him. Clottey, Margarito, Bradley and Marquez are the guys who all met “Compassionate Manny.” Freddy doesn’t like him. As a matter of fact, he hates him.

“It always frustrates me because I like to see the knockout,” Roach told FightNews . Roach believes that the controversial loss to Bradley has incensed Pacquiao to not allow his foes to see the final bell. “We’re making less money in this fight than we did in the last one because we didn’t win when we could have scored a knockout. We had a loss and have to take a pay cut. We don’t like pay cuts.”

Heading into Saturday’s fourth encounter, Roach believes that Marquez will finally see the Pacquiao that ransacked multiple divisions. Not the guy who feels sorry for hurting other fighters. When Roach is asked what does he think is the cause of it, the Hall of Fame trainer knows exactly what’s to blame.

“A lot of it was the bible study. It was just too much,” Roach explains. “He had to get control of that and run the bible study classes. I had to tell them not to keep him up until 2 a.m. and to close the book a little bit earlier. I have nothing against the bible but I do know when my fighter needs rest.”

Roach also says that aside from keeping Pacquiao up late at night, the bible studies instilled a compassion in him that has since made him a bit softer in the ring. Perhaps annoyed by the Bradley loss and with something to prove to Marquez, Pacquiao has blitzed his sparring partners in a major way. For the first time since his preparation for Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao is back to being the savage fighter we grew to love.

“It was a process. Every time he knocked down one of his sparring partners I would give him $1,000. But I owe him $4000 and he wouldn’t take the money,” Roach jokes. “But I was happy that he was dropping guys in sparring because we haven’t had that in a long time. He was going too easy on these guys and it carried over into the fight. Now he’s going hard again I think that it will carry over into the fight.”

The merciless Pacquiao has even given Roach a hard time on the mitts.

“He’s been beating the shit out of me. The pad I wear isn’t helping that much and he’s fired up. He’s like the young Pacquiao I knew when he fought Barrera,” he continues.

Meanwhile, Marquez has attested to being more aggressive in the fourth fight and Roach welcomes that strategy with open arms. However, he simply doesn’t believe that Marquez can be someone he’s not.

“He’s going to run,” Roach said. “He’s a counterpuncher and the moment he gets hit he will revert back to who he is. After all of these years, he can’t change his style. It’s impossible. I wish that would happen.”

The most interesting about the Pacquiao-Marquez rivalry is that Pacquiao has perhaps come down to Marquez’ level and not performed to what people expect of him . Earlier in the week, Pacquiao suggested that his first fight with Marquez was his best showing. Which means that he felt that he was at his best as a one-dimensional fighter that loved his left hand. Roach shakes his head when that is brought up.

“Manny became a better fighter after the second fight with Marquez, that’s when he learned how to use both hands against guys like Oscar De La Hoya,” he reflects.” I thought the third fight would be his best but with all of the distractions we didn’t fight a good fight. Manny didn’t even show up and we still got a decision. This time Manny has two hands and can knock you out with either. I’m confident that Manny will show up.”

Ultimately, Roach believes that the Pacquiao that he knew will show up and Marquez will have no idea how to deal with him.

“Manny said we need to go back to the Manny of 2004, I said that’s a good idea but that’s impossible. However, we’re pretty close to finding the guy who knocked people out.”

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