Roach sings Pacquiao's praises


LAS VEGAS, Nevada, May 6 – Freddie Roach says the one thing he has learned over the years while working with world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao is to expect the unexpected.

So when Roach discovered that the pound-for-pound king had been practising with his band Wednesday night, just three days before his world title bout against Shane Mosley, Roach wrote it off as just another example of "Manny being Manny".

"I have never seen an athlete like him in my life," trainer Roach said Thursday at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. "He trains, trains and trains and then afterwards goes and sings for two hours.

"I hope it is the last time he practises (band) this week but I can’t guarantee it."

The eight division world champion Pacquiao marks his return to Las Vegas for the first time since 2009 by fighting American Mosley for the World Boxing Organization welterweight title Saturday at the Garden Arena in the MGM Grand.

Roach says he has a special working relationship with Pacquiao that goes beyond the regular bond between boxing trainer and fighter.

"I am not his boss. I don’t tell him what to do anymore," Roach said. "He is a grown man. We negotiate and that his how we get things done."

"Who books a concert after a title fight?"

Pacquiao is as versatile outside the ring as he is in it. Besides his singing engagements he is also an elected congressman in his native Philippines, representing the Sarangani province where he comes from.

Roach said they tried to limit the distractions for this fight by shortening Pacquiao’s training camp in the Philippines and spending more time working out at Roach’s gym in Hollywood. Roach says he has never seen Pacquiao work harder to get ready for a title fight.

"Once he comes into the gym all that other stuff goes away," Roach said. "I am waiting for Manny to show me a sign he is slowing down. He is better now and works harder than he has ever in his life."

"Manny asked me the other day, ‘if I start to slow down will you tell me?’ I said ‘I will be the first to tell you and then you and me can both go look for new jobs.’"

The 51-year-old Roach has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for several years.

However, the former lightweight boxer, who fought under the nickname The Choir Boy, is in better shape than most 30-year-olds and he still gets in the ring with Pacquiao during lengthy training sessions.

He controls his Parkinson’s through medication and says he has been pain free for the past year.

"The message I want to give people is don’t give up," Roach said. "I am a fighter. I don’t dwell on it. The only time I am reminded of it (Parkinson’s) is when I take my medication."

With such a solid preparation behind him, Roach says he wants to see Pacquiao to start knocking out his opponents again.

Pacquiao is a career 52-3-2 with 38 knockouts and is on a 13-fight win streak but his last knockout was was just over two years ago when he beat Ricky Hatton in two rounds.

In his last fight, Pacquiao clobbered Antonio Margarito, breaking the Mexican fighter’s eye socket before deciding to carry Margarito through the later rounds to register a unanimous decision.

"I know Manny. I saw him ask Margarito if he was OK during the fight. Manny became friends with Margarito through the 12 rounds.

"He also does that with his sparring partners and that is why I always change the guys.

"He will get a point, like with Margarito, where the challenge isn’t there and he will go into auto pilot and just win the rounds.

"I tell Manny ‘don’t become friends with them because one punch can change everything’ I also say ‘you make more money when you knock them out.’"

Speaking of big-money fights, Roach said boxing fans are right to feel cheated that a fight between Pacquiao and undefeated American Floyd Mayweather hasn’t been put together.

"He is the biggest challenge in the world out there for us," Roach said. "He is the hardest style for us to fight. It is hurting the game. That fight is so big. I travel the world and wherever I go people say ‘make it happen.’"