- Coach Freddie Roach can only shake his head when told that Antonio Margarito has been training like hell.
“Even if he works hard, nobody works hard like Manny. Nobody,” said Roach on the eve of Team Pacquiao’s departure for Baguio where, according to the celebrated trainer, the real hard stuff begins.
It’s exactly 49 days or seven weeks before Manny Pacquiao climbs the ring against Margarito, on Nov. 13 at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It’s the time for everyone to put their game faces on.
“It’s time to get serious,” said Roach, who wants sparring to begin tomorrow, behind closed doors at the Cooyeesan Plaza, the same place where they trained briefly for the Miguel Cotto fight last year.
Team Pacquiao arrived at the country’s summer capital around 5 p.m. yesterday.
Weather in Baguio is much colder than in Manila, with forecasts of a high of 26 degrees Celcius to a low of 15 over the next few days. Rainshowers are also in store for Pacquiao and his small party.
Its high altitude and rugged, mountainous terrains will give Pacquiao everything he needs.
Roach said their battle plan against Margarito isn’t done a hundred percent yet but insisted that Pacquiao already knows what to do against the taller but much slower fighter from Mexico.
Roach said Margarito can train as hard, as long as he wants to, and it still won’t make a difference in the fight.
“Okay, he is what he is,” he said of the 5-foot-11 ex-champion. “But this is our time.”
The four-time Trainer of the Year is talking about the fact that Pacquiao had stayed unbeaten for five years now, and that he can remain unbeatable for a long, long time if his work ethic stays the same.
In contrast, he said Margarito may find it easier to quit than put up a fight everybody wants to see.
“When he quit against Shane Mosley, his career was over I think. Here’s my philosophy: once you quit, it’s much easier to quit the second time,” said Roach as he looked back to Margarito’s big TKO loss to Mosley last year.
Again, he said it’s time to get serious, and tomorrow he plans to kick off sparring, and may tap Michael Medina, a fighter even taller than Margarito, to do three rounds with Pacquiao.
“He’s more like the opponent while Glen Tapia (the other sparring partner) is the cocky one. Maybe we can hold him up a bit,” he said, adding that Tapia could use another day or two to rest after going down last Wednesday because of some water he drank somewhere.
Doghouseboxing.com reported yesterday that Margarito, the disgraced ex-welterweight champion, is deep into training in El Monte, California, and will soon move to Oxnard for the tougher grind.
Margarito’s trainer, Robert Garcia, is quite impressed with the way things are going.
“He’s ready to fight. He’s close to weight already and his conditioning is good and he’s running the mountains that mostly everyone does in an hour. He did it in 47 minutes. So he’s ready. When we get to Oxnard, we’re going to be ready to spar and plan for the fight.”
But Roach isn’t giving Margarito a second look, especially after he saw the fight against Mosley.
“And that’s the way he will quit (against Pacquiao) I will bet that he’ll quit. I tell him that to his face. I’ll bet that you’ll quit,” he said couple of days ago.
As usual, Pacquiao would rather talk about himself than his opponent.
“I’m getting better. I think I’m 50 to 60 percent conditioned. But we have enough time. With Margarito, you need to practice hard,” he said.