BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – You’ve got to take his word when Freddie Roach says there’s no need to worry.
“We need a little more focus, but I think overall we’re doing okay,” said the trainer of all trainers after Bob Arum sounded the alarm the other day while watching Manny Pacquiao train.
Arum said he didn’t see the speed in Pacquiao, that blinding speed he would need to stun, overwhelm and get rid of Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13 in Texas, after a couple of workouts here.
“If the fight happened on Saturday Margarito would win the fight,” was the quote of the day from Arum.
Roach yesterday admitted that Pacquiao is far from his best but that things can be worked out in the next couple of weeks.
“He’s a hundred percent with the mitts but fifty percent in sparring,” he said.
Pacquiao seemed to have taken the first four weeks of training lightly, skipping roadwork and gym workouts like he’d never done before. Twice on weekends, he left this City of Pines for Manila.
Pacquiao also had too much of basketball early in the camp that it was hard to tell if he was training for a world title fight or a basketball tournament. Or too much of Congress.
Roach, however, said it was all right for Pacquiao to play basketball because the deal was that the 31-year-old champion, would quit it four weeks before the fight.
Saturday evening Pacquiao spent a couple of hours rehearsing his songs for the after-fight concert on Nov. 13, and the other night he was at a late dinner with Arum and friends.
The stormy weather up here, with howling winds and non-stop rains since Monday, forced Pacquiao to once again skip his roadwork yesterday, but went to the gym early to spar.
Somehow, Roach looks satisfied.
“We’ve had good and bad days, but more good than bad lately, so it’s getting better and better. But we need get more focus. Started a little bit late than the usual,” said Roach.
The four-time Trainer of the Year thinks the only way to do this is to get Pacquiao to his Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, and on Saturday evening they’d be boarding the plane to LA.
According to plans, Pacquiao should head down to Manila after tomorrow’s workout, spar at the Elorde Gym on Thursday, train on Friday and spar one last time on Saturday.
“I’m still pushing for sparring on Thursday and then go to L.A. on Thursday. But we haven’t work that out yet,” said Roach who may need to beg before the fighting congressman for that.
Roach said the toughest weeks of this camp are coming.
“This would be a big week for sparring. This week and next week. It would be the toughest two weeks coming up,” said Roach, who has plenty of reasons pushing for an earlier flight to LA.
“With the weather and so forth, yes. And I have more sparring there, better sparring. No, not better, but more of the style I’ve been looking for,” he said.
Mexicans Michael Medina and Glen Tapia have done a good job as sparring partners, but Roach is looking for some fresh meat because Pacquiao has this habit of getting too friendly with his sparring partners as the days go by.
“There’s Abdullah, Kid Chocolate, who’s 21-and-0, Amir Khan, Vanes (Martirosyan). That’s plenty. We’ve sparred 36 rounds now. We’ll get about 30 rounds this week and 30 next week, and then we start tapering off,” Roach added.
Roach was asked if he’s sticking to his prediction that Pacquiao would knock Margarito out early or late.
“Yeah,” he said. - By Abac Cordero (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)