Pacquiao thinking, talking KO for first time
LAS VEGAS—He’d never say it openly but Manny Pacquiao intends to knock out Timothy Bradley when they clash on Saturday night (Sunday morning in Manila).
The admission came from renowned trainer Freddie Roach in an interview with Manila-based sportswriters at the Top Rank Gym here.
“He talked about a knockout for the first time and said he would like to get a knockout,” said Roach, who will be inducted into the boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday.
“Usually he keeps it inside,” Roach said after Pacquiao’s workout on Thursday, his last before staking his World Boxing Organization welterweight crown against the unbeaten American.
The new fire in Pacquiao’s belly sent Roach’s hopes soaring for a stoppage.
He wants Pacquiao to prove wrong those doubters and detractors who claim that Pacquiao’s speed and power are on the wane, following four straight decision wins.
And Roach thinks Bradley, young and aggressive, fits the bill.
“Manny will take him to school,” vowed Roach. “I know this is a big opportunity for him, but it came too soon.”
Lacks skill and experience
Roach said Pacquiao would expose the 28-year-old Bradley, who boasts as many wins as his age but has scored only 12 knockouts.
“Bradley is durable and resilient, but he still lacks the skill and experience. He has never fought at this (elite) level.”
After studying tapes of Bradley’s fights, Roach noticed that the WBO light welterweight king hasn’t changed much.
“He’s still the same and commits the same mistakes at the same time,” Roach said. “Manny will catch him early on and will knock him out.”
That’s because Roach believes Bradley will fight—not run—in their 12-round battle at MGM Grand Garden Arena. And the bout will make people forget Pacquiao’s unimpressive victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in November last year.
Though the Pacquiao camp had an equally great training camp for that last bout, Roach said things fell apart when Pacquiao’s mind went adrift in the five days before the fight.
Ready for the kill
Roach said he felt the lack of focus in Pacquiao when the champ did not smile when he came out of the dugout, and rushed things from the opening bell.
“His mind wasn’t there.” said Roach, who feels that Pacquiao, with his family around, is primed up for the kill this time.
Other ring experts say Pacquiao will come under much closer scrutiny than usual as he attempts to prove he is still at the height of his powers.
Patching up with Jinkee
The Filipino southpaw narrowly retained his title against Marquez after his preparations had been hampered by various distractions, including marital difficulties.
Pacquiao has since patched up his relationship with his wife Jinkee and has become a much more disciplined boxer after replacing his former pastimes of cockfighting, gambling and nightclubbing with increased bible study and family time.
“No more gambling, no more drinking,” the 33-year-old Pacquiao told Reuters. “I just want to focus on my career, focus on praying and follow the commandments of God.”
New but good distractions
Asked what had gone wrong for him against the experienced Mexican Marquez, Pacquiao replied: “I am not going to win a good fight all the time. Sometimes a fight comes where I will win after a hard time, and that time was during the last fight.”
He then added: “I was in 100 percent physical condition for that fight but I did have some family issues that I had to deal with. I also underestimated him.”
Roach has no doubt that his fighter, who has been installed by Vegas bookmakers as a 4-1 favorite and who has a career record of 54-3-2 with 38 knockouts, will be at his best against Bradley.
“I am very happy with Manny’s focus,” Roach said. “His focus is the best I have ever seen. Manny got rid of a lot of distractions in his life and he has some new distractions that are a lot better than the old ones.”
Speed and power
Roach explained why he didn’t think the fight with Bradley would last the distance.
“Bradley comes forward and is very aggressive,” said Roach. “He is a well-conditioned athlete and we know we are in for a tough fight. I don’t think we have fought anybody that muscular.
“But I think he will be overwhelmed by Manny’s speed and power. It’s going to be a great fight as long as it lasts. Manny wants to prove he’s not all done like some people say.”
Bradley will be fighting for only his second time at 147 pounds but he firmly believes he has a much greater incentive than his opponent.
‘All or nothing’
“I’m going to put it all on the line on Saturday,” said Bradley, who won his first world title at light welterweight by defeating Britain’s Junior Witter in 2008. “This is not his biggest fight, it’s my biggest fight. It’s all or nothing.”
The eloquent and eminently likeable Bradley was clear-cut about his best strategy against Pacquiao.
“I know that I’ve got to stay tight, I’ve got to stay behind a good jab and I’ve got to keep moving,” he said. “I’ve got to have great defense and I’ve got to counterpunch the hell out of this guy with combinations.” With a report from Reuters