RingTV.com spoke to trainer Freddie Roach regarding Manny Pacquiao’s upcoming welterweight bout with junior welterweight contender Brandon Rios, which is slated for Nov. 23 in Macau (Nov. 24 in China) on HBO Pay Per View.
Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs), who turns 35 in December, is attempting to rebound from consecutive losses by disputed split-decision to WBO beltholder Tim Bradley and sixth-round knockout to Juan Manuel Marquez last June and December.
Rios, who tuned 27 last month, is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Mike Alvarado in March that was a rematch of Rios’ seventh-round stoppage win over Alvarado last October.
Roach also offered his thoughts on several upcoming fights, including Lucas Matthysse-Lamont Peterson, Carl Froch-Mikkel Kessler, Paulie Malignaggi-Adrien Broner, and Marquez-Bradley, as well as a potential megabout matching Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Saul Alvarez.
Roach calls Pacquiao’s fight with Rios a shot at “sweet revenge” for a November of 2010 video in which Rios and now-retired former welterweight titleholder Antonio Margarito appeared to mock Roach’s Parkinson’s disease.
Freddie Roach: Well, the layoff’s obviously a concern, but I think that (Pacquiao) needed some time off after you get knocked out like that. I think that fighters come back too soon sometimes, and it’s usually for a bad result.
Manny wanted to come back in April, and I told him “No, that’s too soon.” And then we looked for a September date. But then we ended up with a November date, which is great for me.
Because after a concussion like that, you need time off and you need time to recover. I was speaking to him on the phone and so forth, and he was anxious to get started.
Once I see him in the gym, and so forth, I’ll kind of analyze what he’s got and whether or not he’s lost anything, and if he has, then we’ll talk about it maybe being over. And if he looks great like I expect, then we’ll go on.
RingTV.com: But you don’t think that he might be at that point, do you?
FR: No I don’t. The thing is that I know Manny really well, and he’s gotten knocked out. He understands that winning and losing is part of the sport, and if you don’t think that you lose in this sport, then you’ve picked the wrong one.
Losing just makes some people a better fighter, and that’s what it will do for Manny. Manny accepts the loss, and that’s why it won’t bother him, I feel.
RingTV.com: Why do you believe Rios is the right sort of opponent for Manny to return against after the losses to boxers in Bradley and Marquez?
FR: The thing is that Rios is a very tough fighter, and I feel that he’s very strong and he’s from the younger generation coming up, and Manny’s from the older generation.
But if Manny wants to compete and to stay within the top 10, then he’s going to have to be guys like Rios. So it’s kind of a test for both guys. The winner will go on to bigger and better things, and the loser will be maybe finished.
RingTV.com: What about Rios’ style do you like?
FR: He’s very strong in the pocket and he’s very physical. I think that it’s going to be a tough fight, early, but I think that Manny will break him down.
Rios has a style that is going to make the fight really, really exciting to watch for the fans, and that’s what we really want. Manny needs a fight like that, an exciting fight.
Manny doesn’t need to go in there with a runner who is just going to run away and Manny’s going to out-box him. So someone’s going to get knocked out in this fight, and I think that it’s going to be Rios.
I’m sure that they think otherwise, but I think that it’s a great matchup. It’s better than Mayweather-Guerrero. Mayweahter put us to sleep the other night. Five guys that were watching with me fell asleep.
People weren’t even interested in the fight. They were more concerned with laughing at the people next to them who were falling asleep during the fight. Believe me, no one will fall asleep during the Pacquiao-Rios fight.
RingTV.com: When do you feel that Manny was at his peak during his career, and where do you believe that he is now in relation to that in terms of his ability?
FR: Obviously, the Ricky Hatton and Antonio Margarito fights, and some of the other fights where he was on fire and where he wasn’t so compassionate with his opponents like he was in later fights where he didn’t want to hurt people.
The Miguel Cotto fight was a great fight because it was action-packed against a quality opponent. It was one of his best fights up there. But he just became compassionate to the point where doing enough to win was enough.
But I think that doing enough just to win is not enough. People like knockouts, and that’s what puts people in the seats, and that’s what we have to do in this fight.
It’s really hard to say how far he is away from being the old Manny Pacquiao, but I’m hoping that you see the old Manny Pacquiao in this fight with Rios.
That’s still kind of up in the air. If he performs well in this fight, then he’ll go on. If he doesn’t, then it will be over.
RingTV.com: Do you expect Manny to be the bigger guy in this fight, having fought bigger opponents recently?
FR: Well, Rios is a tough guy. You know, he was a good amateur and he’s a good pro. He’s very game and he likes to fight and he likes to exchange, and that’s what I want Manny to do also.
Manny likes to entertain his fans, and this is going to be the fight that brings Manny back, I really feel. Manny’s been in there with bigger opponents and I believe the tougher opponents.
Going into this fight, they’re thinking that Manny’s old. And the saying is “out with the old, and in with the new.”
But I feel that it’s not time yet, and I think that we’ll prevail in this fight. It’s going to be a tough fight and a very entertaining fight and somebody’s going to get knocked out.
RingTV.com: Could Ruslan Provodnikov return as a sparring partner?
FR: I’ve been talking to him about that, and that’s definitely a consideration, but it just depends on where his [Provodnikov] next fight date falls.
I hear that they’re trying to get him a fight also, and that he’s in the mix for a fight with Mayweather. If they take that September  date, that could mess things up for me.
But we’ll make it work somehow. But the thing is, I’m going to get the best sparring that I can for the fight and we’re going to be training in the Philippines for six weeks for this fight.
That’s only an hour and a half flight from Macau, and we’ll definitely be ready. But Ruslan is definitely one of those guys that can fight Mayweather.
The thing is, he has a puncher’s chance against Mayweather, but Mayweather is a very careful fighter. He’s a brilliant boxer who took no chances against Guerrero. He was very boring and he put a lot of people to sleep, and so forth, but technically, he fought a great fight.
RingTV.com: Does the video of Rios and Margarito still bother you, and if so, why?
FR: It never bothered me, to be honest with you, because they were just trying to get under my skin. But, the thing is, what bothered me about it is that there are a lot of other people in the world that suffer from this disease.
So if he doesn’t think that far ahead, then he was embarrassing himself and he’s really downgrading a lot of people in the world.
So I was more concerned with that. But the thing is, personally, I took no offense it.But I do like payback, and payback is a b–ch sometimes.
RingTV.com: Who wins Peterson-Matthysse, how and why?
FR: Great fight. Matthysse, I think, is a little stronger and a better puncher. I think that he wins, but don’t count Peterson out.
RingTV.com: Does Matthysse win by a decision or a knockout?
FR: A knockout.
RingTV.com: So you think Matthysse is going to knock Peterson out?
FR: I think that Matthysse has the ability to, yes. But Peterson is a very tough guy. But I do like Matthysse in that fight.
RingTV.com: Who wins Kessler-Froch II?
FR: Kessler’s a good friend of mine, and I wish him the best, but I think that Froch is too strong and too much for him at this point..
RingTV.com: So what do you think the verdict is going to be in Kessler-Froch II?
FR: I think Froch wins a decision.
RingTV.com: Can you pick a winner for Broner-Malignaggi?
FR: I can’t. You know, Paulie works out in my gym, and I’m friendly with both guys. It’s a great matchup, and Paulie’s going to have to box his a– off to win this fight, that’s for sure.
RingTV.com: So the man without fear is showing some reluctance?
FR: Paulie has trained at my gym, Broner has trained at my gym, and, you know, I know them both very well. So I’m going to stay neutral on that one because I want to remain friends with them.
FR: Who cares? Who f–king cares. Come on, give me a f–king break. Marquez picks him instead of Pacquiao? He’s got no balls.
RingTV.com: Who wins Mayweather-Alvarez if that fight takes place?
FR: Mayweather, because Alvarez is just not ready for him.
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Chris Farina
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org