Manny Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach (right).
Freddie Roach is the man behind the arguable pound for pound king in boxing, Manny Pacquiao. As the "Fighting Pride of the Philippines's" legendary status has grown, Roach has become the most widely known and respected trainer of this generation. It's a long way for the former boxer who said he started his Wild Card Boxing club in Los Angeles with $10,000 back in 1994.
Since then Roach has trained Oscar De La Hoya, Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins, and even actor Mickey Rourke in the early '90s when he took a break from the big screen. Roach prepares Pacquiao for his welterweight title bout with Miguel Cotto Live on HBO Pay-Per-View this Saturday, and a victory for his fighter would give Manny titles in an unmatched seven different weight divisions. Roach took a break from training to speak with Complex about why Manny is the best boxer of this generation, his prediction on Saturday's fight, and whether he thinks a super fight with Floyd Mayweather in 2010 is realistic.
Interview By Ralph Warner
Complex: After nine years of working together, how would you say your relationship with Manny has changed?
Freddie Roach: Well it used to be that I was the teacher and he was the student. But things have changed, and he knows enough about boxing now. For example, when I show him a move now he'll help me with it and find his most comfortable way of using it. We work it out together now. He's learned the game of boxing quite well. I love it when he does that too, because when I show him the move and if I have to force it, he'll really never do it. But if he makes the adjustment and we come up with the perfect way to do it where he's comfortable with it, I know he's going to use it and it will work very well.
Complex: What separates him from every other champion boxer of this generation?
FR: His dedication and work ethic is unbelievable. Most champions get satisfied and lazy or are content with themselves. Pacquiao wants to improve all the time. He's still getting better. He's like a throwback to me, he'd be great in any era of course. His work ethic is just unbelievable. He'll go 16 rounds straight through, he won't take a rest period, he just works right through it. He's a machine.
Complex: With the natural disasters in the Philippines a few months ago, how concerned were you that training over there would be too much of a distraction for Manny?
FR: We didn't have any distractions in the Philippines. There was a lot of death around us and sadness of course, but once we got in the gym we separate the outside life with the gym. We never missed a day in the gym, we never missed a day of running. The Philippines was a great train for Pacquiao, actually. Then we went to Manila for a couple days because another typhoon was coming. He ended up boxing in a ring that was 12 by 12 [feet] because it was the only one available. It worked well though for the sparring.
Complex: What's your biggest concern with Cotto?
FR: We know he's changed. We know he's good on the ropes; we know he's got a great left hook. We know how to stay away from the left hook and we know how to stay off the ropes. Those are my concerns and we got them covered.
Complex: What do you think Manny's biggest advantage will be?
FR: Speed. Cotto is very, very slow. He's got slower since the Margarito fight and his defense is very poor. We're going to take advantage of him.
Complex: How did you approach the training for this fight with Cotto differently than the last fight with Ricky Hatton?
FR: This camp was more like the De La Hoya camp because they both lead with their power hand. Cotto's left handed, so we had to stay away from that trap more than in the Hatton fight. Whatever he brings, we're ready.
Complex: How many rounds do you think the fight will go?
FR: Nine or 10.
Complex: So Pacquiao by knockout in round nine or 10?
Since meeting in 2001, Roach has led Pacquiao to a record of 17 wins, one loss, and two draws.
Complex: Moving on to Mayweather. Do you believe a Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight can happen in 2010, when they're both still at the height of their careers?
FR: I hope so. But that depends on the negotiations for the fight. I think the only way that fight will happen is if it's a 50/50 spilt. Hopefully it will because I think it's the best fight out there.
Complex: Being that Mayweather is undefeated, what do you feel is different about Pacquiao that could separate him from other boxers Mayweather's faced?
FR: [Manny] was just a one-handed fighter [when he lost to Erik Morales in 2005], trying to look for a knockout, now he's a much more clever fighter. He has a whole new game plan and knows how to stick to it. He's a much better boxer than he was then and that's why he's been so successful at the higher weight divisions because of his boxing ability.
Complex: In the event that you can't agree to a fight with Mayweather, who's the next best boxer out there that you would like to see Manny face?
FR: I want him to fight [Juan Manuel] Marquez [with whom Pacquiao had a controversial split decision last year] because I want to shut him up once and for all. That's who we want.
Complex: As Manny has moved up in weight throughout his career, what have the two of you worked on to ensure he's kept up his speed and power?
FR: Nothing. He just is natural. Just 100 percent natural.
Complex: What do you think has been the key to the welterweight division carrying the sport of boxing for most of this decade?
FR: It's a popular division because most Americans are about fast fights. You get guys with speed and power both in this division. Sometimes little guys don't punch that hard, and some of the big guys don't box that well. So the welterweight division will always be a great division because they can punch, they can box, and make better moves. It's the great way that they have power and boxing ability.
Complex: What do you think other weight divisions like heavyweight have to do in order to capture mainstream attention again?
FR: They need someone out there who can liven up the sport in the heavyweight division. But yeah, I'm sure there's someone out there.
Complex: With the rise of MMA over the last few years, some are saying it's taking away fans from boxing. Do you see this as being true?
FR: I think a good fight is a good fight whether it's MMA or boxing. Just like how a boring fight is a boring fight. I don't understand it that well, but I don't have anything against MMA, there's enough room for everybody.
VIDEO: Roach talks about Manny's second greatest love on HBO's 24/7
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