LOS ANGELES – Exuding confidence with the big fight only a week away, Freddie Roach said yesterday he expects Manny Pacquiao to beat Juan Manuel Marquez convincingly in Las Vegas on Dec. 8 to end their quadrilogy on an emphatic note and ruled out the possibility of a fifth meeting.
“When Manny showed up at Wild Card for the first time since arriving from Manila, he went 12 rounds with the mitts right away,” said Roach in his gym on Vine Street. “He told me he was in shape, I believe him. Manny did some serious work in General Santos before coming over. So far, he’s scored four knockdowns in sparring – two sparmates went down twice each. He hadn’t knocked down a sparmate since training for the (Miguel) Cotto fight three years ago.”
Roach said he’s not worried about Marquez’ newly sculpted physique. “Sure, he’s bigger,” said Roach. “He’s put on muscle. He’s probably lifting weights. I never claimed he did steroids. I once mentioned it seemed unnatural. Lifting weights to build muscle is unnatural. Honestly, I wanted both Manny and Marquez to do the voluntary dope testing which is supervised by Dr. Margaret Goodman. That’s how they found out about Lamont Pearson testing positive for an illegal substance after his fight against Amir Khan. Manny’ll do it. I don’t know if Marquez will. But anyway, Bob (Arum) didn’t think it was necessary. With all that added bulk, Marquez will be slower and easier to hit.”
On speculation that Marquez will change his style and attack aggressively instead of counterpunch patiently, Roach said he doesn’t expect Marquez to do anything different in his fourth attempt to beat Pacquiao. “He’s not going to change,” said Roach. “He’ll do what he did in the first three fights. If he does attack aggressively, he’ll get hit and as soon as he feels Manny’s power, he’ll go back to counterpunching. It’s the way he is.”
As for Pacquiao, Roach said he couldn’t ask anything more in the gym. “He’s in the best shape of his career,” he said. “He wants a knockout. To win, all he has to do is to fight his fight, do like he used to – pressure, attack, don’t give Marquez a chance to unleash. The way Manny’s been sparring, I think he’ll knock out Marquez.”
Roach’s staff agreed that Pacquiao can’t lose. Steve Bandman, who used to work with trainer Jesse Reid in Texas and has now been employed at Wild Card the last four years, said he hasn’t seen Pacquiao so fierce in sparring since the David Diaz fight in 2008. He predicted Pacquiao to win by knockout or clear decision.
Roach’s head of security Rob Peters said Pacquiao will be ready for whatever Marquez brings into the ring. “There’s no way Manny’s losing this fight,” said Peters. “He’s in great shape. He doesn’t do the isometrics and plyometrics anymore. He knows what he’s doing. You can tell the way he’s working out that he’s gunning for a knockout and that’s how it’ll end.”
In the gym, three trainers alternate in prepping Pacquiao. Roach works on Pacquiao’s technique in a grand master plan, anticipating Marquez’ style and polishing his own. Buboy Fernandez focuses on enhancing Pacquiao’s power and speed with the mitts while Marvin Somodio wears the body shield and plays the rabbit in making Pacquiao chase him around the ring.
“My job is to run away from Manny so he practices his footwork,” said Somodio, referring to the tactic of cutting the ring off on the opponent. “He tries to corner me and I try to slide away. He bangs the body shield but I can still feel the power. I also hold up the mitts. I’ve seen Manny train before in Baguio. I saw him train for (Timothy) Bradley. This is a different Manny now.”
Another Filipino trainer Nonoy Neri in Pacquiao’s team said he anticipates Marquez to change his style. “He couldn’t beat Manny in three fights so now that he’s bigger, maybe he thinks he can fight him aggressively,” said Neri. “Maybe, he’ll try to surprise Manny by charging in, instead of counterpunching. But Manny will be waiting. Manny won’t do too much jabbing with the right because Marquez knows the left straight is coming after the right jab. You’ll see Manny firing the left like a lead hand a lot, faking with the right. Manny’s in excellent shape. Against Bradley, you didn’t see the six-pack in his abs. Now, you’ll see it.”
Somodio said no matter how Marquez fights Pacquiao, the Mexican is doomed to lose. “Manny’s hungry,” said Somodio. “There’s nothing Marquez can do to win.”