By Nick Giongco
Top trainer Freddie Roach wants to bring Manny Pacquiao to a secluded training camp up in the mountains of Toluca in Mexico in preparation for the Nov. 14 fight with Miguel Cotto.
“It’s absurd to train in the Philippines,” said Roach in an interview Thursday with fightnews and Manila Bulletin as the Hall of Fame trainer brushed off suggestions that Baguio be used as an alternate camp to the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood. “Cotto is going to be the toughest fight and anyone who says that it’s going to be easy is a f_____ idiot!” Roach said he “knows what’s best for my fighter,” pointing to the high elevation of Toluca as the perfect site for Pacquiao’s usual eight-week training.
Roach said Toluca (8,793 feet above sea level) is the best choice to set up camp. The city has a temperature of seven to 21 degrees Celsius during the months of September and October and is easily accessible by land from Mexico City.
Roach said Pacquiao didn’t reach his full potential when they trained in Cebu in 2007 for the rematch with Marco Antonio Barrera as there was a steady line of people watching their every move.
“There were lots of distractions and there’d be a lot more now since Manny is ten times more popular,” said Roach.
Even if Pacquiao trains daily under his watchful eyes, Roach is not sure if Pacquiao will stay mentally focused.
“The Governor might fly him out during the weekends,” said Roach without naming anyone in particular although he could be referring to former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis ‘Chavit’ Singson, who owns a private jet.
Pacquiao is being advised to limit the number of his stay on US territory owing to an IRS provision called the Substantial Presence Test which mandates non-resident aliens like Pacquiao to limit their number of stay in a three-year period. It has been discovered that Pacquiao has exceeded the number of days allowed and if he decides to spend the entire eight-week training camp in the US, he will be taxed heavily.
Top Rank head Bob Arum first suggested the Bahamas as a possible site then mentioned the resort cities of Nuevo Vallarta and Cancun in Mexico as options. Vancouver in Canada was also mentioned but the constant rains there forced his handlers to rule it out.
Pacquiao hasn’t decided where to train for the Cotto fight although he has mentioned Baguio as an option since he is still heavily involved in the shooting of a movie, TV shows and commercials.
Roach said he hasn’t been contacted by Pacquiao’s people these past few weeks and he feels slighted that he is not being consulted.
“I have tried calling Manny but the guy I spoke with couldn’t understand English and I feel that they’re trying to stop me from talking to him,” said Roach.
Still, Roach said he won’t be surprised if he ends up taking that long flight to Manila.
“But if Manny wants me to go there, I’ll go but…”
Meanwhile, Arum said he will try to convince Pacquiao to junk the idea of training in the Philippines.
“I will talk to (Pacquiao adviser) Mike (Koncz) and we’ll see what happens,” said Arum.