Michael Rosenthal

Roach wants Pacquiao to have interim fight

Freddie Roach, Manny Pacquiao’s trainer, wants the boxer to have an interim fight this summer before he faces the winner of Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez or another big-name opponent at year’s end.

Roach believes an interim fight would keep Pacquiao sharp for whatever comes his way. The Filipino’s quick demolition of Ricky Hatton means he has fought less than two rounds since he stopped Oscar De La Hoya last December.

The question is: Who would he face? There’s no obvious answer.

Timothy Bradley and Edwin Valero are possibilities.

Bradley, THE RING’s No. 2-rated 140-pounder, might be a good choice because his style is similar to that of Mayweather, who most believe will beat Marquez on July 18. However, Bradley is a relative unknown and would generate relatively little interest.

Valero, rated No. 3 at lightweight, would be an intriguing opponent because of his record – 25 opponents, 25 KOs – but he might be too big a risk with a megafight looming afterward even though Pacquiao would be a heavy favorite.

“Valero’s a question mark. Why blow a fight with Mayweather for that?” Roach said.

Beyond that, Roach is certain of only one thing: Pacquiao will not fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., a 6-foot 154-pounder who would make for more of a circus act than a legitimate fight.

“That will not happen,” Roach said. “I guarantee it. It’s a joke. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m still trying to work out what’s best for Manny.”

The biggest possible matchup in the sport is Pacquiao-Mayweather, which probably will happen assuming Mayweather wins in July, Pacquiao wins an interim fight or decides to not to have one, and the two sides agree on a contract.

However, there are potential problems already. Mayweather wants a 60-40 split in his favor, which Pacquiao –- the No. 1 attraction in boxing — undoubtedly will find unacceptable. Remember what happened when Hatton wanted a 50-50 split?

“It just isn’t going to happen,” Roach said.

If it doesn’t, that would fine with Roach.

His ideal scenario -– “a dream come true,” he said — is an upset by Marquez in July. That way Pacquiao wouldn’t have to fight Mayweather, against whom Pacquiao doesn’t match up well, and he’d get a third meeting with the Mexican fighter and a chance to prove he is the better of the two.

Roach also likes prospective matchups against Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto more than Mayweather.

“It’s the biggest fight out there for Manny, which is what we want,” Roach said of Mayweather. “I think it’s a very, very tough fight, though. It’s winnable, but a counter-puncher style gives us the most difficulty.

“If (Mayweather) priced himself out of the fight, that’d be fine with me too. Manny can fight Mosley or Cotto. The thing about Mayweather is that even if you beat him, you probably look bad doing it because he runs. He’s boring.”

The problem with Mosley and Cotto is weight.

Roach believes Pacquiao-Mosley would be the most fan-friendly fight but Mosley wants to do battle at 147, which won’t happen. Cotto might be a better candidate because he has said he’d go down to 144 for the fight, although Roach said he might make 143 the limit.

Mayweather, the smallest of the potential opponents, probably would have the least trouble making a catch weight.

“I’d rather fight a guy who will fight us, to be honest with you,” Roach said, “a guy we have a chance of knocking out and vice versa. That would be exciting for the fans. I think the best option would be Shane. The only problem is that Shane wants to fight at 147, which we’re not going to do.

“I gotta protect my guy. Manny weighed 138 after breakfast (on Saturday).”

Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions, which is promoting the Mayweather-Marquez fight, is optimistic regardless of what happens.

“No matter how you slice it, you have a lot of great fights,” he said. “That’s the good news. With Shane, Mayweather, Marquez, Pacquiao and Cotto, you have five guys who you can mix and match and make big, meaningful fights.

“It’s a great time to be a boxing fan.”

Pacquiao-Marquez: A third fight between Pacquiao and Marquez would be attractive to both fighters because their first two meetings –- a draw and a split decision for Pacquiao — have been inconclusive.

Schaefer did some math on the two meetings. The fighters fought 24 rounds, which means three judges scored a total of 72 rounds. Of those, 41 were won by Marquez, 31 by Pacquiao. Meanwhile, Pacquiao has the edge in actual points – 679-678.

“After 24 rounds of fighting, it comes down to one point,” Schaefer said. “That’s amazing. The fight on Saturday (between Pacquiao and Hatton) showed us, one, that Pacquiao is very good and, two, how great Juan Manuel Marquez is.

“I would not count him out (against Mayweather), I’ll tell you that much.”

Roach said Pacquiao has improved considerably since his second fight with Marquez, in March of last year, and predicted his fighter would stop Marquez inside three rounds.

“It’s a bold statement, I know, but I truly believe it,” Roach said. “Manny is that much better.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at RingTVeditor@yahoo.comn

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