HOLLYWOOD—It’s hard to tell whether trainer Freddie Roach was joking or not, but he surely caught the attention of Filipino sportswriters when they stepped into his sweaty Wild Card Gym Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
“Have you seen my new fighter? You know who that guy is?” Roach asked while pointing a finger to the lone man in blue shirt and red shorts shadow boxing with the intensity of a budding contender. “I have a new guy.”
Of course, Roach was referring to his prized ward, Fighter of the Decade Manny Pacquiao, who was wrapping up two hours of training in the tapering phase of his preparations for Juan Manuel Marquez.
It was Roach’s way of telling that the world will see a new Pacquiao when the he tangles with Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth time on Dec. 8 (Dec. 9 in Manila) at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
“The first two fights, Manny was still a one-handed fighter,” Roach explained. “And in the third, there were distractions and Manny was not near himself.”
This time, Roach said he’s confident that a new Pacquiao will show up.
Roach was in a jolly mood as Pacquiao did really well in six rounds of sparring with unbeaten prospect Frankie Gomez (13-0, 10 knockouts) and one of the Roman brothers and again went the extra mile in his training regimen and abdominal exercises.
“I liked what I saw,” said Roach. “He was explosive and sparred very well today. He’s 100 percent ready.”
The Hall-of-Fame trainer was particularly pleased that Pacquiao was able to score four knockdowns against his sparmates in the course of the seven-week training camp here.
“That’s a good sign because he hasn’t scored a knockdown since the (Miguel) Cotto fight (2009),” said Roach, adding that he’d like to see Pacquiao knock out Marquez just to conclude their rivalry. Otherwise, he’s willing to settle for a lopsided decision.
According to Roach, he doubts whether Marquez will box differently as the previous three fights.
“I certainly doubt it. Marquez has been and will always be a counterpuncher by nature,” said Roach, who expects Pacquiao to overwhelm Marquez with fast combinations.
Roach is banking on Pacquiao’s pronouncement that he needs to win by knockout to erase lingering doubts on the people’s minds.