Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach thinks his prized boxer Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao “hasn’t missed a step” and is quite capable of climbing back to his once-lofty perch as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
The five-time American Trainer of the Year reunited last week for the first time in nearly a year with Pacquiao to prepare the Filipino boxing hero for his November 24 comeback fight vs. Mexican American brawler Brandon Rios of Oxnard, California.
“[Pacquiao’s] really fresh right now. He’s really anxious to get back in the ring. He’s hungry,” Roach told Rappler.com’s Natashya Gutierrez at PacMan’s Wild Card Gym in General Santos City.
“Well, he’s very excited. He wanted to fight earlier, I wanted him to fight a little bit later. The time off [was]good for him,” Roach said.
Veteran boxing commentator Larry Merchant said Pacquiao has demonstrated his ability in the past to bounce back from hard losses and emerge even better.
“I think Pacquiao has the resilience to rebound from that loss to [Juan Manuel] Marquez. Other great fighters have done it before. Maybe Manny could do it too. Let’s see,” Merchant said in a previous phone interview.
“Will he be gun-shy when he face Rios, or will he the same aggressive, explosive Manny Pacquiao the fans are used to? Roach said.
Coming off two consecutive losses last year for the first time in his illustrious ring career, Pacquiao, who will turn 35 in December, needs to summon his old, explosive form to beat the 27-year-old Rios in a 10-round big-money fight at the Cotai Arena of the Venetian Resort Hotel in Macau, China.
Pacquiao fought only twice in 2012—a dubious split decision loss to World Boxing Organization welterweight champ Timothy Bradley and a sixth-round knockout thrashing by Mexican arch-rival Juan Manuel Marquez on December 8.
Boxing pundits think Pacquiao, the only fighter to string eight world titles in as many weight divisions, has been on a decline as evidenced by his twin losses and his failure to score a knockout in his last four wins dating back to March 2010.
Still, Team Rios is leaving nothing to chance in training camp at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Oxnard, California.
Training for best Pacquiao
Garcia, the 2012 Trainer of the Year, said he’s preparing Rios, a former world lightweight champion, for Pacquiao at his scariest best.
“Manny Pacquiao’s done so much in boxing that we’ve got to admire and be [wary always]. So we’re training for the Pacquiao that has done everything. The Pacquiao that is so fast, and so powerful, and who has knocked everybody out,” Garcia told veteran boxing scribe Chris Robinson.
“We’re preparing for the Pacquiao that’s scary.”
Garcia, a former world featherweight titlist, still vividly remember the methodical demolition inflicted by Pacquiao on the Garcia-trained Mexican slugger Antonio Margarito to win the vacant World Boxing Organization super welterweight title in November 2010.
Rios flooring sparmates
“We don’t like to publicize what’s going on in training, but I’m so impressed,” Garcia was quoted by told by Robinson as saying.
“Brandon’s been knocking [his]sparring partners out. He’s doing a good job, looking so strong and so fast, and we’ve still got six weeks before the fight.
The Mexican American trainer noted that since Rios is fighting Pacquiao at the 147-pound limit, he “doesn’t have to kill himself to make weight.”
Like Pacquiao, a two-term congressman of the lone district of Sarangani Province, Rios is seeking redemption following his unanimous decision loss in March to junior welterweight star Mike Alvarado. Rios stopped Alvarado in their first fight but lost by unanimous decision in their rematch.