LAS VEGAS– Five-time Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach called the skills of four-division titlewinner Juan Manuel Marquez “style-wise, the hardest style in the world” for Manny Pacquiao, whom he will meet for the fourth time on Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand.
Yet Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 knockouts) has chosen to face Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs) over a rematch with Tim Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs), whose controversial split-decision in June dethroned Pacquiao as the WBO’s 147-pound titleholder.
In November, Pacquiao won an unpopular and highly-disputed majority decision over Marquez, who has also battled Pacquiao through a draw and a split-decision loss previously. Bradley ended a 15-bout winning streak for Pacquaio that included eight knockouts.
Roach is town as the trainer for WBC middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who will defend his belt in an HBO Pay Per View-televised clash with RING champion Sergio Martinez on Saturday night from the Thomas & Mack Center.
On Thursday, Roach spoke to RingTV.com, as well as other reporters, during a round-table discussion The Wynn Hotel.
RingTV.com: what are your thoughts on the fourth fight with Marquez?
Freddie Roach: It’s a tough fight. Style-wise, it’s the hardest style in the world for us. Manny is going to have to be at his best to win this one. I told Manny that we need a really, really good training camp.
I mean, we really, really need to completely focus on this fight. He’s agreed to stay in America the whole time. We’re not going to train in the Philippines for this fight. We’re going to be very, very focused.
RingTV.com: Will there be any other changes?
FR: The game plan that I have set for him in the last three fights, I know that they’re the right game plans, but the thing is, it’s not working in the fights.
I haven’t come up with a good idea yet of what I need to do to make him win that fight, but I’m thinking and thinking every day as I watch tapes of his opponent. We will come up with an answer.
RingTV.com: How much of a challenge is it for you to be in what appears to be, more or less, a make-or-break fight with Pacquiao?
FR: It’s going to be challenging for me. It definitely is. It’s a little bit of a contest between me and [Marquez’s trainer] Nacho [Beristain.] He wants to be the best trainer and I want to be the best trainer. So the winner of that fight, the trainer will be perceived as the better trainer. So, it’s competitive, yes, and it does get personal.
To be honest with you about the game plan, me and Manny have to sit down together and watch the fight and come up with a game plan together and not just watch separately and say, “you bring that to the table and I bring this to the table.” We need to work together on this.
RingTV.com: Is this Pacquiao’s most challenging fight, mentally?
FR: This is the most challenging fight, but the thing is, Manny picked it. He didn’t have to pick Marquez. He could have picked Bradley in a rematch. That’s an easier fight in my book.
There were a lot of other choices out there but Manny picked this fight. He picked this fight, and he knows what he’s up against. He has balls.
FR: No. He’s still the same. I told him, “when you start to slow down, I’m going to tell you that you should retire” He said, “you promise me that you will do that?”
And I said, “yes I will.” And I said, “if I tell you to retire, will you retire?” And he said, “yes I will. I will if you tell me that it’s over.”
But right now, his discipline and his work ethic are as good as ever. But, you know, we haven’t started the training camp yet, so I will give you a report as it goes.
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com