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Roach says Manny will fight smart


PhilBoxing.com




Freddie Roach isn’t worried about Manny Pacquiao losing focus because of Keith Thurman’s trash talking, assuring that the Filipino fighting Senator will fight smart and stick with the game plan to win their WBA welterweight unification title duel at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night (Sunday morning, Manila time).

“Manny’s not happy about it,” said Roach, referring to Thurman’s boast of crucifying Pacquiao and sending him into retirement. “But Manny’s not like one of those guys who carry their anger over to a fight. He’ll fight a smart fight and stick with the game plan we set out to win this fight.”

Roach said Thurman is a dangerous opponent but Pacquiao has the speed and style to take care of business. “Thurman has power in his left hand and overhand right,” he said. “I just don’t think he is as much as he was at one time.” The undefeated American boasts a record of 29-0, with 22 KOs, but five of his last six outings went the distance. Thurman, 30, was pushed to the limit in his last three fights since 2016, beating Shawn Porter by a unanimous decision, Danny Garcia by a split decision and Josesito Lopez by a majority decision in that order.

Roach, 59, said his life turned around when Pacquiao walked into the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles looking for a trainer in 2001. That began a long relationship leading to Pacquiao winning eight world titles in eight different weight divisions, seven with Roach in his corner.

“Manny made me a bit famous,” smiled Roach. “I can’t go to the Philippines without a lot of people coming around me. It’s very nice, the people are very nice. I enjoy it. I like people and being where I’m at. I’m very happy. People say I’m the best trainer in the world. I hope that when I die, it’ll still hold on because I like that. I like being a good trainer, I like being good in what I do. I work my ass off every day. I get to the gym at 7 in the morning and I go home 8 at night.”

Roach has battled Parkinson’s disease for nearly 30 years but doesn’t let it get the better of him. “I was diagnosed as having Parkinson’s somewhere down the line,” he said. “Some symptoms have gone away a little bit. I asked my doctor if I’m cured and he laughed, not yet, he told me. I’m in good shape. I work every day. Without having this gym, I don’t know what I’d do. Maybe, stay home and watch TV. I love this work, I like helping fighters, I like helping people. I hope I die doing this.”

Roach revealed that civil rights activist and minister Rev. Jesse Jackson is also afflicted with Parkinson’s and recently reached out. “Rev. Jackson called me about a month ago, maybe two,” he said. “He asked if I could help him. What’s wrong? He told me he has Parkinson’s. I think I can help him. He asked if he could come out and see me. Of course, he can. So he came out and on the first day, walking up the steps was difficult for him.”

Jackson, 77, made public his affliction in 2017 and said he had symptoms three years before. Roach said he has survived Parkinson’s with constant hand-eye coordination drills. Doing the mitts with fighters like Pacquiao is his therapy. “Boxing probably saved my life,” said Roach. His message to Jackson was “You just can’t give up, can’t let it take over.”

Photo: Manny Pacquiao works the pads with Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles (photo by Jhay Otamias).



Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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