Freddie Roach on Pacquiao vs. Margarito, Part 2
As he readies Manny Pacquiao for his Nov. 13 fight with Antonio Margarito (on HBO pay-per-view), Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, is taking some time to talk to FOXSports.com about the preparation process from his Wild Card Gym in Hollywood.
In Part 2 of four interviews, we spoke to Freddie about the controversy surrounding Margarito’s suspected illegal hand wraps in previous fights and about getting Pacquiao focused on training for this fight while serving in Congress in the Philippines.
FOXSports.com: I read some quotes from you about how you saw something about Margarito in some fights that made it apparent to you that he was loading his wraps. What did you see?
Roach: You saw the way he punches and the way he acts, and the amount of damage he does to his opponents. If you watched his last 10 fights, you can tell there’s a big difference in those fights than the others.
FOXSports.com: How do you make sure things are on the up-and-up this time?
Roach: That’s not a problem. It’ll always be on the up-and-up with me. I’m a (stickler) when it comes to hand wraps. I know the rules and I don’t trust anybody.
With (the fight against Miguel) Cotto and those guys, somebody wasn’t doing his job with the wraps.
FOXSports.com: How much of a distraction were Manny’s Congressional responsibilities when it came to training in the Philippines?
Roach: We only missed one day of training because the President wanted to see him. It’s more his focus. It took me longer to get him focused for the fight than normal because his mind was on Congress and not really in the gym completely.
Once we got back to the Wild Card (in Hollywood) everything’s back to great form. We had an 11-round sparring session yesterday and he beat the (spit) out of three guys. Everything’s back to normal now.
Congress was mentally a problem, trying to keep him focused on what he needed to be doing.
FOXSports.com: What other distractions were there over there?
Roach: Well, in the Philippines, with Congress and the President wanting to talk to him — just a lot of politicians pulling at him, wanting to get a piece of him. So it took a little longer to get his focus, but we have it completely now.
FOXSports.com: How long does it usually take Manny to get mentally and physically into training after taking time off?
Roach: Usually the first day.
FOXSports.com: What are the biggest difference for you training Manny in the Philippines rather than at Wild Card?
Roach: The thing is, we’ve always had distractions, but most of the distractions are singing, karaoke, acting, playing darts, playing basketball, of course. Congress is different because Congress is something he takes very seriously and something he wants to be really good at. The other stuff is just fun stuff. Congress is like competition right now. It’s like, what does he like more? He loves being a politician. It’s new, it’s exciting to him. I think it definitely will take him away from boxing, but not yet. He does want to be the best at what he does, including being a Congressman at this point.
FOXSports.com: All this talk about you calling this the worst camp he’s had with you, how do you put that all behind you?
Roach: Yeah. The thing is, it’s the worst camp we’ve ever had together, but we’ve always had perfect camps before this. We’ve never had a bad camp. Comparatively, it’s probably better than most people’s. For him to miss one day is unusual. We only missed one day with the President, but it’s still an unusual thing for him to miss a day. Again, it wasn’t so much the physical part of it, it was more his mindset and where his head’s at. That’s what I was worried about.
Once we got back on the plane, we had a talk about him being behind schedule a little bit. Not physically, again, but mentally. But the sparring session on Tuesday, the 10 rounds went great, 11 rounds (Thursday) and we’ll go 12 rounds (Saturday). So everything’s back on track.
Mrs. Pacquiao (Manny’s mother Dionisia) told me yesterday, "Coach I’ve known you 11 years. I know you were worried. I promise you everything’s OK." I said, "I know I’ll sleep well tonight because he showed me that he’s back and his focus is on boxing 100 percent."