Freddie Roach returned from the Philippines before Manny Pacquiao’s fight against Antonio Margarito last year with a degree of concern.
Pacquiao had worked hard but, because of myriad distractions related mostly to his second career as a congressman, he fell behind in his training. He had to play catch up in Los Angeles in the final weeks before the fight.
RingTV.com sat down with Roach on Wednesday at Staples Center, the site of a news conference to promote the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Sebastian Zbik fight on June 4.
What was Roach's state of mind a month before Pacquiao fights Shane Mosley on May 7? Couldn’t have been more relaxed. He has the quiet confidence of a trainer absolutely certain that his fighter will be at his best come fight time.
“We had a very good start in the Philippines,” Roach said. “Congress didn’t really get in the way this time. His mind was on training. I think the first time we were there he had just become a congressman. It was exciting and new. I think he realized that congress is pretty boring. They don’t do a lot.
“Congress never came up. He never said he misses his job (as a congressman, as he did last camp).”
Roach is giving Mosley the requisite respect all world-class opponents deserve – but only to a point.
A Pacquiao who is 100 percent focused and prepared against a 39-year-old who has seen better days, Roach implied, might not turn out to be a competitive fight. He is making a bold prediction.
“We’re not taking this guy lightly,” he said. “We’re taking him seriously. We’re back here in L.A. He sparred yesterday, six rounds with Karim Mayfield and Shawn Porter, two good sparring partners. And Manny looked very good.
“I don’t see Shane having a chance.”
And what about Mosley’s power?
“He has a big punch … relatively,” Roach said. “Who has he knocked out? (Ricardo) Mayorga? Big deal. That guy can’t fight a little bit. I’m not going to say this will be a good fight to try and sell the fight.
“We’re going to knock him out.”
“I doubt early,” he said. “He has experience. He knows how to survive. We’ll make the fight at a fast pace, our pace. I’d say he’ll stop him in six, seven rounds. … That’s the prize, to be the first to stop him, to show the world how much better we are than anyone else. That’s our goal.”
One thing that could stand in the way of a knockout is Pacquiao’s compassion.
He had a badly beaten Margarito in enormous trouble late in the fight but couldn’t bring himself to inflict unnecessary punishment to finish the job. Roach respects that sentiment but added that it could lead to trouble.
“He’s a compassionate person,” he said. “He ends up liking his opponents as time goes on. He feels sorry for them. I urged him not to do that. He said it’s a sport, that he should try not to kill anyone. I agree with that.
“He was asking (Margarito) if he was OK in the 11th and 12th rounds; they were nodding to each other. One punch can change a fight if a guy gets lucky, though. You shouldn’t let those things happen.”
Will he do it again?
“Yes, he’ll probably do it again,” Roach said.
Even so, if Pacquiao is as sharp as Roach says he is, an aging Mosley might not last long.