Pac's calm camp bad news for Mosley?
LAS VEGAS -- Freddie Roach's reputation is that of a guy who calls 'em like he sees 'em. The all-star trainer -- who will pick up his third consecutive trainer of the year award and fifth overall Friday night at the annual Boxing Writers Association of America awards dinner -- isn't one to sugarcoat his feelings.
So, he didn't hold back this past fall when asked how training camp was going during preparation for his star pupil, pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao, to face Antonio Margarito in November.
Camp was a mess, Roach said. And he said it often. He said it was the worst training camp of their 10 years together.
TV lineup for the Top Rank-promoted Showtime pay-per-view card on Saturday (9 p.m. ET, $54.95) from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas:
• Welterweights: Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs) vs. Shane Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs), 12 rounds, for Pacquiao's title
• Super middleweights: Kelly Pavlik (36-2, 32 KOs) vs. Alfonso Lopez (21-0, 16 KOs), 10 rounds
• Junior featherweights: Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (20-0-1, 17 KOs) vs. Jorge Arce (56-6-2, 43 KOs), 12 rounds, for Vazquez's title
• Junior welterweights: Mike Alvarado (29-0, 21 KOs) vs. Ray Narh (25-1, 21 KOs), 10 rounds
He said Pacquiao was unfocused and quite distracted in the five weeks they spent in camp in Baguio City in Pacquiao's native Philippines. Pacquiao was newly elected to Congress there and was dealing with his political duties while preparing for the bout. He was flat in some sparring sessions, even drawing the ire of his promoter, Top Rank's Bob Arum, who had gone to visit camp for a week.
At one point, Pacquiao skipped a day of training altogether because he had been summoned for a meeting in Manila with the president. Roach was not happy. A typhoon that hit the Philippines also caused havoc and disrupted the camp.
So, when they finally left the country for the final three weeks of training at Roach's Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., the trainer was relieved, and Pacquiao finally got his act together. The result: Pacquiao dished out a lopsided pounding of Margarito to claim a vacant junior middleweight belt and became the first fighter in boxing history to win titles in eight weight classes.
Now, as Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs) heads into his welterweight title defense against Shane Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs) on Saturday night (Showtime pay-per-view, 9 ET, $54.95) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Roach could not be happier with the way their camp went this time, which might not bode well for 39-year-old Mosley, who is coming off consecutive poor performances in a lopsided loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. followed by a draw with Sergio Mora.
Roach was downright effusive about Pacquiao's preparation.
"I think this is the best training camp we've ever had, and I think Manny is in his best shape ever," Roach proclaimed at the final news conference on Wednesday. "He knows he has to be. We are facing a determined guy who is extremely crafty and experienced.
"I'm very proud of Manny and the training camp he just went through. He said at the start that this was a tough fight, and he has trained his butt off since day one."
Arum, who paid another visit to the Philippines for this camp, agreed.
"Manny has trained harder than I have ever seen," he said.
Roach hasn't forgotten about the way things went last time.
"The last fight, the Philippines part of the camp was not that great because there were a lot of distractions and so forth," he said. "This time in the Philippines, we didn't have any distractions."
Roach was also pleased to get Pacquiao back to the United States sooner than he did last time.
"The three weeks we had there [in the Philippines] were great, but having five weeks in America is a lot better for him," he said.
The tranquil nature of this training camp was thanks in large part to Pacquiao's getting into a routine of balancing his congressional duties with his training. It also helped, Roach said, that the Filipino Congress was in recess during training camp.
"Totally off," Roach said. "He never talked about politics."
Roach said Pacquiao's near obsession with training shocked him.
"His dedication is unbelievable to me," Roach said. "I can't believe he is working harder for this fight than any other fight I have ever seen. From day one, the first day running, I said, 'You ran the flats, right?' We always start on the flat surfaces and work our way onto the hills. He ran the hills the first day. I said, 'Why?' He said, 'Because I know this is not an easy fight.'
"He respects Shane Mosley. And he knew from day one, this is not an easy fight. He told me the first day, this is not an easy fight. I said, 'Thank you so much for saying that.'"
Roach said Pacquiao was in midcamp form from the start.
"Usually it takes us a little while to get into the flow of training camp, but from day one he's been on fire," Roach said. "I mean, we did eight rounds of mitts in the first day of training camp and he hadn't been in the gym since the last fight."
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Roach said Pacquiao eventually was regularly doing 16 rounds a day on the mitts, so much that Roach had to hold him back.
"That's the hardest part of Manny Pacquiao -- slowing him down," he said.
It would be easy to understand a fighter in Pacquiao's position -- boxing's biggest star, who makes huge money (a minimum of $20 million for the fight with Mosley) -- slacking off maybe just a little bit, especially when facing an opponent who is such a significant underdog (8-1 at the MGM sports book).
But that is not Pacquiao.
"I am definitely not taking this fight lightly, and I am not underestimating Shane Mosley," Pacquiao said. "Mosley has good hand and foot speed, and he moves like he is 31 or 32. Both of us have worked hard and had great training camps. We will both be doing our best, which should make for a lot of action and make the fans happy. I will be happy if this happens."
One of the reasons Pacquiao said he took his training as seriously as ever is because Mosley dominated Margarito and knocked him out in the ninth round in 2009 but Margarito lasted the distance with Pacquiao in November.
"I fought Margarito, and we finished 12 rounds," Pacquiao said. "Mosley has the advantage in that because he knocked Margarito out."
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Pacquiao, 32, said he was anxious to return to training when the fight with Mosley, a former three-division champion, was signed.
"After the Margarito fight, I rested and didn't train in the gym," Pacquiao said. "I focused on my job [in the Filipino Congress], and that's why I'm hungry and ready to train hard and focus on the fight. I was hungry, excited and motivated to train hard because I missed boxing."
Said Roach: "He hadn't been in the gym since the Margarito fight. He had some downtime, and he was hungry for boxing again. He missed his boxing job, and he was very motivated coming into it. A lot of people tell Manny this is an easy fight and Shane hasn't looked good in his last couple of fights.
"We're looking at [Mosley's] fight with Margarito -- a guy that attacks -- not those two runners [Mayweather and Mora] that he had a little bit of difficulty with. Styles make fights and Manny has an aggressive style, and that's why we have to be ready for this guy. Manny knows that, and that's why we started out right off the bat not taking this guy lightly and working our asses off."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
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