HOLLYWOOD—Freddie Roach may be happy with the way Manny Pacquiao has been training, but the uninvited throng sneaking into the sweaty Wild Card Gym here during the afternoon sessions has frayed his nerves.
Roach has now ordered security chief, Rob Peters, to enforce a closed-door order on Saturday afternoon when Pacquiao spars for the penultimate time before wrapping up training camp and motoring to Las Vegas on Monday.
“I’m sorry guys,” Peters told Manila-based sportswriters over dinner at Nat’s Thai restaurant, around 30 meters across the famed gym. “There were so many people and hangers-on last Thursday that he (Freddie) was pissed off. He didn’t want a repeat of such situation.”
This was confirmed by publicist Fred Sternburg, who relayed to select Filipino reporters that the Thursday crowd was even bigger than when Pacquiao hosted the media on Wednesday.
If any consolation, Peters said the doors would be opened to the public and journalists as soon as Pacquiao’s sparring is over.
Pacquiao is into the tapering phase of his preparations for his fourth showdown with Juan Manuel Marquez on Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand Arena, but Roach still wants no distractions if possible.
Earlier reports had it that Pacquiao was so intense in his training that he posted a total of four knockdowns against his sparmates, including unbeaten welterweight prospect Frankie Gomez (13 wins with 10 knockouts), since his arrival in Los Angeles on Oct. 29.
A video posted on YouTube two weeks ago featured a ripped Marquez also knocking down a sparring partner.
Though the knockdowns would cost Roach $4,000 in friendly wager with Pacquiao, the Hall of Fame trainer doesn’t mind a bit.
Roach wants the old Pacquiao—fiery, aggressive and relentless—back against Marquez.
With Pacquiao coming off an unexpected loss to unbeaten American Timothy Bradley in June, Roach sees a knockout win by Pacquiao as a form of vindication.
According to Cebu-based promoter and Pacquiao confidant Rex “Wakee” Salud, who arrived here on Friday evening (Saturday in Manila), he’d never seen the eight-division world champion so “focused” in training for a long time. “Even when he started his physical buildup back home in Gen. Santos City.”