MANILA, Philippines - The last thing Freddie Roach wants to see in the ring in November is Manny Pacquiao being cornered, pinned by the ropes.
He said Antonio Margarito can only be as dangerous as he is or as dangerous as he used to be if the 5-foot-11 Mexican catches the shorter Filipino on the ropes.
“His size is a bit of a problem because he’s six feet tall,” said the boxing guru who presided over yet another impressive workout by Pacquiao yesterday at the Elorde Gym.
It was the fourth day of serious training for Pacquiao at the spacious yet restricted gym in Quezon City even if sparring only begins on Tuesday up in Baguio, the country’s summer capital.
With their motions, it was quite clear that Roach wants Pacquiao to bring the fight to the center of the ring. And if there’s someone who’d be trapped by the ropes then it should be Margarito.
“As long as Manny stays off the ropes we’ll be in good shape,” said Roach, who doesn’t want to see Pacquiao fooling around, getting himself hit as he did against Miguel Cotto in November last year.
But despite his concern, Roach is confident that Pacquiao will get past Margarito via knockout.
“I’d be disappointed if we don’t knock him out -- inside eight rounds,” Roach told Filipino scribes a couple of days ago.
Roach also said there’s no comparison between Margarito and Oscar dela Hoya, the golden boy who figured in a stunning mismatch with Pacquiao in 2008, and quit on his stool after eight hard rounds at the MGM Grand.
“This guy is much more hittable (than Dela Hoya) and likes to exchange a lot more. And when Manny can hit somebody, I usually don’t worry much about it,” Roach had told the American press.
The four-time Trainer of the Year has clearly gotten inside the head of Margarito.
“What, does he see me crippled or something?” Margarito asked as Roach sat just a meter away, when the two fighters and the two trainers, including Robert Garcia, met up recently for HBO’s Faceoff.
Margarito sounded irked when Roach said, “I think Manny’s going to knock him out inside of eight rounds,” and responded with that crippling comment.
But Roach was not to back off, and replied, “I saw your last two fights.”
The hottest trainer in the sport today, of course, was referring to Margarito’s last two fights, a stunning knockout loss to Shane Mosley in January of 2009, and a far less impressive win over Robert Garcia last May.
That was all Freddie needed to see.
Abac Cordero, Philippine Star