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No Excuses, Says Roach

By Steve Kim
(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)

After the IRS imposed exile to Baguio, followed by the malaise of Manila, trainer Freddie Roach was satisfied with where his charge, Manny Pacquiao, was- physically and mentally- as they headed down the home stretch of their training camp at their familiar haunts of the Wild Card Boxing Club, last week. This Saturday night, they face WBO welterweight champion, Miguel Cotto, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, in the years most anticipated event.
"Manny told me,’I’m back’," said Roach, last Thursday afternoon, one of their last days in Hollywood before they took off for Las Vegas."He’s back, no problem, at all. Focus is there, the conditioning was never a problem. We worked everyday. Baguio, Manila, wherever we were. We never missed a day of working out and running and so forth. So we got back here, his running has been really great, boxing’s been really good. He sparred eight rounds the other day, looked really good, 100-percent."

On this afternoon, Pacquiao went through six rounds of sparring( three each with Urbano Antillon and Ray Beltran) before finishing off his days work with an energetic session on the heavy-bag and a few rounds on the double-end bag, jumping rope and then shadow-boxing. His workout took approximately three hours and it was marked by Filipino’s trademark energy and enthusiasm. For all that surrounds ’Planet Pacquiao’, nobody works harder in the gym then he does.
"My training camp for this fight is good," said ’the Pac Man’ after his days work."We’re doing great and we work hard for this fight." He added," I feel strong, I feel strong enough for a 12-round fight."
Their last week in Hollywood was hectic, as it included an appearance on ’the Jimmy Kimmel Show’ and a media day at the Wild Card. But Roach says that these obligations do not overload his fighter.
" Jimmy Kimmel, we filmed that at like 5:30 in the afternoon. So it wasn’t really late day. It loosened him up a little bit because he likes the singing part of it. Media day, is actually like a day off because we don’t really show that much, just give you guys a taste of what we’re up to because the whole workout would be impossible with as many people that came to the gym," said the well-regarded trainer."Yesterday, we ran him really hard in the morning on the track and then we just went four rounds on the mitts, a couple on the speed-bag and on the rope, stuff like that. The mitt day before was 16 rounds, straight."
Pacquiao said of his appearance on the late night ABC talk show,"It was very fun. I was very happy for that show. It was funny, I sing one song."
There is always the lingering question of whether Pacquiao is distracted or not. It’s become a permanent storyline of any fight he participates in. But Roach, says with a grin,"Y’know what? We like drama. We have enough in our lifetime that we must like it. Otherwise, we would change things. We’ve always had problems, there’s always something going in Camp Pacquiao."
The large focus of this camp has been the on-going animosity between strength-and-conditioning coach, Alex Ariza, and adviser Mike Koncz, who had a well-documented physical altercation while in the Philippines. Roach laughs this off as being a non-issue. The trainer has been through it all with Pacquiao. From when he was getting fleeced by Murad Muhammad or the multitude of fans that swarmed the gym on a daily basis before the first match-up with Erik Morales.
Those were real distractions that hindered his focus. The extra-curricular stuff he’s now involved in? To him, it’s a necessary diversion.
"He enjoys it, he thrives on it," Roach stated."He thrives off it, it’s a challenge. People say he can’t do it. It’s just like after the fight, he’s in concert at the Mandalay Bay."
Win, lose or draw on Saturday night, there will be no alibi’s from them.
" No excuses for this fight," said Pacquiao."I’m ready to fight and I will do my best."
Roach echoes those thoughts," No excuses, 100-percent. No excuses."
So what are Pacquiao’s thoughts on his upcoming foe?

"Everyone knows he’s bigger than me, he’s stronger. I know he hits hard but I’m very confident in myself and my speed, my power."
But Roach wonders if Cotto is irrevocably damaged following his loss to Antonio Margarito last year.

"To be quite honest, studying his tapes, he was a very good fighter early in his career but he’s not the same guy after the beating he took with Margarito. I don’t think he has his confidence back, his defense seemed to be poor in the Clottey fight and he was very slow," he opined."I think everyone reacts differently on the first knockout loss, some people never get over it, some people get over it quickly. They say, ’Well, Manny should be the one shot because he got KO’d twice.’ But yeah, that was 20 years ago. We’re obviously gotten over that. So he’s one of those guys who can get over it.
"Can Cotto get over his KO loss? I don’t think so. He hasn’t shown it, yet."
Judging by the reaction the two fighters received on Tuesday afternoon at the MGM Grand, there’s no doubt that ’Firepower’ is building a lot of momentum. I’m told it was the biggest reception ever for a promotion.
One way you can gauge just how well an event will do is to see just how many fans show up to the weigh-in( which takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena at 3:00 on Friday afternoon, with the main event fighters getting on the scale at 3:10). I expect to see a raucous crowd there.
Just a hunch, but I think this fight will exceed one million pay-per-view buys, and perhaps even rival what the Pacquiao-De La Hoya fight did last year( which did right around 1.4 million.)
As this promotion goes into overdrive, various cable systems around the country are offering several free On Demand programs that are distributed by iN DEMAND, in addition to two exclusive on-line documentaries that give viewers a look at the fight and both Pacquiao and Cotto.
On the cable end, the Pac-De La Hoya, Cotto-Clottey fights will be offered On Demand. Along with a 30 minute preview show from HBO Pay-Per-View, in addition to the weigh-in, which takes place on Friday afternoon.
From the on-line perspective, ’Miguel Cotto- A Champion on a Mission’ and ’Manny Pacquiao- Rise to Greatness’- which are both an hour in duration- are available starting on Wednesday at
On Demand cable programs are available on Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Bright House Networks, Bresnan, RCN, LodgeNet and other independent cable systems.
November is a very good month for boxing, because in addition to this weeks blockbuster, the following week; Showtime’s ’Super Six’ continues between Andre Ward and Mikkel Kessler in Oakland, California. Here’s a video preview put out by Showtime Sports:
Pacquiao has his own personal website at The official announcement of the Jan. 30Th clash between Shane Mosley and Andre Berto will be made on Saturday in Las Vegas, I’m told....It’s a good match-up, only buzzkill is that it will most likely be the only fight on that HBO broadcast....I also understand that Golden Boy Promotions will be hosting a lunch with David Haye that afternoon.....Don’t forget that there is card on Friday night at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay with Mark Melligan and Z Gorres co-headlining. It’s supposed to be televised on TV Azteca- the key phrase being ’supposed to be’...’30 for 30’ on ESPN continues to deliver week in and week out...Do folks who hate Notre Dame really want Charlie Weis out? Wouldn’t a coach like Brian Kelly of Cincy, be their worst nightmare?....Any questions or comments, please send them to weeks edition of ’the Main Event’ has Bob Arum, who didn’t like my question regarding his ’spectacular’ undercard....


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