source: Joaquin Henson | The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines - Celebrated boxing trainer Freddie Roach predicted the other day Manny Pacquiao will stop Juan Manuel Marquez inside six rounds in their WBO welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Nov. 12 and said the spark in the Filipino icon’s eye in training camp indicates he’s going all out for a decisive victory in their third encounter.
While Marquez has been uncharacteristically polite to Pacquiao during the recent world media tour, Roach said he’ll never forget the Mexican’s whining after the draw in 2004 and losing by split decision in 2008. Marquez even flew to Manila in 2009 with an entourage to taunt Pacquiao and goad him into agreeing to another face-off. Marquez caused a mild commotion at the Araneta Coliseum ringside when he gate-crashed a boxing card to confront Pacquiao.
Last November, Marquez showed up at a press conference in Las Vegas after defeating Michael Katsidis wearing a T-shirt with the words, in capital letters, emblazoned on the front – “MARQUEZ BEAT PACQUIAO TWICE.”
“No doubt in my mind, Manny beat Marquez in both fights,” Roach told The STAR at the Pan Pacific Hotel last Saturday morning. “They were close fights but Manny won both. Manny finished strong in the two fights, taking the last round, and Marquez went down four times in all. The first fight was a draw but it should’ve been a win for Manny by split decision if only one judge (Burt Clements) didn’t make a mistake in his scorecard. I think Marquez showed disrespect to Manny by coming to the Philippines with his followers and claiming he was robbed in both fights. It was like a slap on Manny’s face. It wasn’t right to do that and what made it worse was Marquez did it in the Philippines.”
Roach left Manila with Pacquiao for Los Angeles last Saturday night.
Roach said Marquez will pay for his disrespect. “Manny will win by knockout,” said Roach. “It’ll be over by the sixth round. That should clear the air once and for all. I’ve wanted this fight to happen for a long time to shut Marquez up for good. Manny knows it’s not going to be easy. I’ve told Manny he can’t afford to be Mr. Nice Guy in this fight because Marquez will do whatever it takes to try to win.”
Roach said he even broached the idea of Pacquiao going for an early knockout – as early as the first round. “Marquez is a slow starter and Manny likes to start fast,” said Roach. “So we talked about starting strong and going for a first round knockout. But on second thought, maybe, we’ll just see how the fight progresses because if Marquez survives our attempt for a knockout in the first round, he might gain confidence. This is going to be a mental, not just a physical fight. I was a little worried at the start that Manny might think Marquez will give him problems because their first two fights were close. Sometimes, you think there’s a guy out there who’s your nemesis like in high school, you might have someone on the other side whom you find difficult to beat whether in boxing or basketball or whatever. But talking to Manny and seeing how he’s been in camp, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. That spark in Manny’s eye tells me everything. He’s very focused.”
Roach said after three weeks of training in Baguio City, Pacquiao is 70 percent ready for Marquez and there’s still a month left to work out at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles.
“Baguio was excellent,” said Roach. “I couldn’t ask more from Manny. No distractions, no politics. He’d get up early every morning for his run, rest, then in the afternoon, go eight rounds of sparring with Jorge (Linares), then 10 rounds of mitts with me, then work the speedball, heavy bag and do drills, rest, then play pool and basketball. He brought pool players and two basketball teams to Baguio. I never watch him play basketball. I’m against Manny playing basketball while training for a fight and we have an agreement that four weeks before a fight, no more playing basketball.”
Roach said writing a third chapter to the Pacquiao-Marquez story will put a closure to the trilogy. “It’s good for boxing,” he went on. “I think the third fight will be really exciting. I have a lot of respect for Marquez’ trainer (Nacho Beristain). It’s always a challenge for me to go up against Nacho. We were together on a TV show with Max Kellerman for HBO recently and I explained what Marquez and Manny are expected to do when they fight a third time. Nacho felt I shared too much information but I told him, c’mon, I know what he’ll do and he knows what I’ll do so we’ll just mix it up a little and see what happens.”
Last Saturday morning, Roach was touched when a nine-year-old boy came up to him after breakfast at the Pan Pacific Hotel to thank him for giving pride to the Filipino people. The boy posed with Roach for a photo then asked how he met Pacquiao. “He came to my gym one day,” recounted Roach. “We did the mitts and I knew right then, he was good. We hit it off from the start. There won’t be a greater fighter than Manny. He’s an eight-division world champion. He raised the bar and nobody can ever do what he has done.”