Freddie Roach interview: The brain's behind Manny Pacquiao's punches talks to Sport360°
For Freddie Roach, a superfight between pound-for-pound kings, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jnr., in Dubai would represent the pinnacle of boxing’s storied history. “The biggest event ever”, he says.
Roach, Pacquiao’s long time trainer and recent inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, acknowledges however, the odds of a ‘desert dust-up’ ever taking place in the UAE are slim. “But not impossible”.
Speaking exclusively to Sport360° this past week, Roach reiterated that Dubai is in the race to stage the most lucrative fight of all-time and admitted the emirate is his No.1 choice to host the $150 million blockbuster. Convincing Floyd Mayweather to leave behind the bright lights of his hometown Las Vegas for Dubai though remains the biggest hurdle.
But Roach believes the riches on offer in the Middle East could be enough to tempt the self-styled ‘Pretty Boy’ to take the fight global. After all he isn’t nicknamed ‘Money’ for nothing. “The trouble we have is Mayweather,” said Roach. “He wants the fight in Las Vegas because it’s his hometown and doesn’t want to go anywhere else.
“But when he is demanding the kind of money that he is you have to go where the money is and we know Dubai have the funds. Manny obviously will fight anywhere in the world and with the massive Filipino community over there it would be like a home from home for him. Getting Mayweather on board will be tough though but not impossible.”
Mayweather has made it clear in recent weeks he wants the fight to go ahead sooner rather than later after his 90-day jail sentence on a domestic violence plea was deferred until June 1.
The 34-year-old (who boasts an unblemished 42-0-0 record) threw down the gauntlet to Pacquiao, himself unbeaten in his last 15 fights, last month by demanding he “sign the contract” for a May 5 showdown at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. His charm offensive continued last Tuesday when he directly called out the eight weight champion on Twitter, urging the Filipino to “step up punk” and agree to the fight that the whole world wants to see.
“It was typical,” said Roach. “We’ve been chasing him hard for two years and all of a sudden he gets his get-out-of-jail-free card and starts calling the plays. Just because you call someone out it doesn’t really mean anything because there are a still a lot of details to be negotiated. The percentages of the purse, the size of the ring, the size of the gloves and the rest of it.”
He added: “I think it is a positive note that he called us out. Both guys want to fight each other, and we need to get this done. It’s now or never. I believe the longer it goes the more it hurts both fighters because I think people are getting tired of hearing about the possibility. They want to see the action.”
But fight fans shouldn’t get too excited. Not yet anyway as Roach believes the blockbuster, regardless of where it is held, with Dallas another host city mooted, won’t go ahead until after Mayweather has served his three month prison sentence. Instead he thinks Mayweather will fulfill his obligation to the MGM Grand for a May 5 fight against another opponent while Pacquiao will take on either Miguel Cotto (in a rematch) or unbeaten WBO Light Welterweight champion Timothy Bradley in June.
Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum was in the Philippines this past week to discuss possible opponents for the Filipino’s next fight, but Roach has his eyes fixed firmly on one man. “Bradley is the fight I want. I think he is the perfect stepping stone for the Mayweather fight, he said. “I think Timothy Bradley will be next and then I think the big one will be sometime in November.”
In the meantime, Pacquiao is continuing his recovery both “physically and mentally”, according to Roach, from his brutal encounter with Juan Manuel Marquez at the end of last year. Pacquiao came in for heavy criticism after his controversial majority decision win, the third time the two men had fought, with Marquez branding the decision a “robbery”, even threatening to retire.
Fans and pundits alike were also unimpressed with Pacquiao’s below-par display with some even claiming it was a tell-tale sign that the superstar is on the wane. Not so according to Roach. “Manny had a bad night. But it was his first one in 10 years so I can excuse him of that. “He had a few little distractions but I can guarantee he will be back to his best in the next fight.”