MANILA, Philippines – For Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, a knockout loss by Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao at the hands of Brandon Rios in their November bout in Macau would mean it’s time to hang up his gloves.
Roach told renowned boxing writer Kevin Iole in a story on Yahoo! Sports that he would “recommend” to call it a career if the former pound-for-pound fighter in the world suffers what would be his third consecutive defeat after dropping a controversial decision to Timothy Bradley Jr. and getting knocked out cold by Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth encounter in December last year.
“It’s over, 100 percent [if Pacquiao is knocked out by Rios],” Roach told Iole. “We have a deal. When I tell him it’s over, he’ll say it’s over and that’s it. He’s pretty loyal with his words and if that happens, it will be the end.”
Roach also said that despite absorbing two losses in his last couple of fights, Pacquiao still has not “shown signs of decline.”
“None whatsoever and I’d tell you if I did,” Roach said. “The thing is, people look at the losses and they think the reason is that he’s getting old. That’s not the case, not from what I see. Look, we all thought he beat Bradley, so throw that out. And in the Marquez fight, I thought he was doing well and was looking like he was going to win by knockout when he made a mistake and ran into a shot.”
“That happens. That’s boxing. It didn’t happen because his skills aren’t the same as they used to be. It happened because he made a mistake. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you can make a mistake.”
Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) will be close to turning 35 when he returns to the ring against the 27-year-old Rios (31-1-1, 23 KOs), who is coming off a loss in a rematch with Mike Alvarado via unanimous decision last March.
Talks of a mega-fight between Pacquiao and unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. have died down since Pacquiao’s shocking sixth round defeat to Marquez but Roach thinks dominating Rios in their welterweight bout would open it once more.
“I think the gap is widening, I don’t agree with that,” Roach said. “But that being said, I’ve told Manny, ‘Knock this guy [Rios] out in good fashion and the Mayweather fight comes back real quick.”
“Manny still wants the fight. We know that Mayweather turned it down, but the truth is this: Mayweather has four fights left after this next one [on Sept. 14 against Canelo Alvarez] and I’m not sure there are four guys in the world left for him to fight without Manny Pacquiao being one of them.”