LOS ANGELES—Manny Pacquiao’s devotion to religion and comments against gay marriage will not have an impact as a training distraction or in the ring as the Filipino icon prepares to fight unbeaten American Tim Bradley.
That was the message from “Pac-Man” and trainer Freddie Roach on Tuesday in a media conference call ahead of Pacquiao’s June 9 defense of his World Boxing Organization welterweight title at Las Vegas.
“Manny Pacquiao is very fired up, very motivated,” Roach said. “He has had a great training session. Everything is right where it is supposed to be. We’ve had a great training camp. Manny’s focus is the best I have ever seen.
“I think you’re going to see the best Manny Pacquiao yet.”
Pacquiao, 54-3 with two drawn and 38 knockouts, has taken to Bible study rather than nightlife these days, but his punches will carry the same sting when he meets WBO junior welterweight champion Bradley, 28-0 with 12 knockouts.
“It will not affect my job,” Pacquiao said. “When I commit my life to the Lord, it’s not about my job. Whatever my job is, that’s a pleasure from God.
“I’m just doing my best to work hard and focus on the fight. Training is going good. I’m ready for the fight.”
Pacquiao was asked his opinion of same-sex marriages last week in the wake of support for such unions from US President Barrack Obama. Pacquiao said he was not in favor of gay marriage, comments he said he knew would touch off controversy.
“Somebody asked me what my opinion of legalizing same-sex marriage is,” Pacquiao said. “I said what I think. It is against the law of God.”
What fanned the flames was a Biblical quote, one never mentioned by Pacquiao but used in a report, calling for homosexuals to be put to death.
Roach said the controversy should be over by now.
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion,” Roach said. “I don’t think it will be a distraction. TMZ was here for a couple days. We pacified them and that was it.”
Roach sees Pacquiao’s piety as a plus, making him fresher as a fighter and more focused and receptive as a pupil.
“He’s not as tired. He doesn’t have any night life whatsoever,” Roach said. “He goes to Bible study. Him and God are very close right now. He’s very focused right now.”
Added promoter Bob Arum: “I think this religious awakening has been all for the good.”
That might not be good for Bradley.
“Tim Bradley is not the kind of boxer we underestimate. He’s a champion,” Pacquiao said. “I don’t know what he’s going to bring into the ring but I’m prepared for whatever he brings on that night. We’re ready for movement or boxing. I’m so ready to fight. It feels good.”
Pacquiao also revealed that he was struggling with family problems when he defeated Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez last November in their third career bout.
“The fight wasn’t hard for me but that fight I had some family problems,” Pacquiao said. “Mentally I was not 100 percent [prepared].”
Added Roach: “In the last week everything fell apart, personal problems with Manny. I don’t think that will happen again. Manny got rid of all the distractions that caused him to fight poorly in that one and I think we’ll have a good fight.”
Roach has worked to reduce the chance of head-clashes between southpaw Pacquiao and right-hander Bradley.
“Bradley is a tough undefeated guy but we’ve watched a lot of video on him,” Roach said. “I see a lot of holes in his defense and I think Manny can take advantage of them.”
Roach says Pacquiao has not fought such a muscular rival but has plenty of experience with larger and faster foes and “Pac-Man” will have advantages in speed, power and experience.
“Speed will be hard to deal with, power will knock you out and experience will make it a little bit easier,” Roach said.