Bob Arum And Freddie Roach Attempt To Refocus Manny Pacquiao

By Matthew Hurley: Bob Arum recently flew to the Philippines to help Manny Pacquiao celebrate his twenty-ninth birthday in General Santos City. Arum, who promotes Pacquiao, has a much wider agenda than simply toasting the most prized possession in the Top Rank stable during the ‘Pac Man’s’ celebration. His concerns run from not only Manny’s future opponent Juan Manuel Marquez, whom he will face at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on March 15th, but also with the fighter’s lack of visibility during promotional campaigns for his bouts in the United States..

“One of the reasons why I came is I am going to sit down with Manny and have a heart to heart,” he told the Business Mirror. “From the standpoint of the promotion what is happening is we do very well with his fights. We are in the same general area which is good, you make money, but it is not growing like it should.”

Arum is alluding to Pacquiao’s penchant, as of late, for foregoing his trainer Freddie Roach’s gym in Los Angeles and conducting the bulk of his training camp in the Philippines. Although the soft-spoken Roach is forever protective of his fighters he is not above venting some frustration when his charges either break camp early, or, in Pacquiao’s case, leave the trainer at a complete loss as to when and where he will even open training camp.

As his star has risen so to has Manny’s near complete embrace of the good life. But he has also become a naïve target for opportunists who continuously surround him in his native land. He has become all things to all the people of the Philippines and he has happily engaged in nearly every genre that his popularity has afforded him – from commercials, to music, to movies, all the way to running for public office, which he lost. Pacquiao has also become near legendary for imbibing in alcohol to near Ricky Hatton or Erik Morales proportions between fights, but until now none of his outside activities have affected his in ring performances. Or has it?

Pacquiao didn’t look at all like the whirling dervish who beat rival Morales to the canvas in the third round of their rubber match in his most recent bout against Marco Antonio Barrera. Certainly an argument can be made that Barrera was in survival mode in that fight but at the post fight press conference Manny seemed distracted, not his jovial self. In fact he seemed weary. In the months that followed he didn’t even seem all that interested in who he would fight next. The public demanded a rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez but Pacquiao had to be reeled in by Bob Arum during the Thanksgiving holiday to finally announce just who he would fight.

Roach, who is also in the Philippines, maintains that Manny’s performance against Barrera had more to do with how they approached the bout.

“Manny boxed well and showed good footwork, which was what we worked on during training,” he told Ring Magazine. “Manny was fighting a smarter fight. Speed and power is not enough to stay in the game long enough. He’s bringing more to the table than being ferocious.”

Roach makes a very good point. Fighters with Pacquiao’s relentless style often tend to burn out quickly. However, despite all that Roach wants Pacquiao to learn and incorporate into his fistic style it’s getting a little late in the game to severely alter what got you there in the first place. The trainer’s main concern really seems to be Pacquiao losing focus, particularly as he readies himself to go up against the formidable Marquez who fought him tooth and nail for twelve spellbinding rounds back in 2004, which resulted in a stalemate.

Arum feels the same way and after Pacquiao’s birthday bash winds down he plans to sit the fighter down and warn him not to take Marquez lightly. He’s also going to try and get the fighter to play ball with his promotional responsibilities.

“When I signed on as his promoter, my idea was to increase his audience, to cross him over,” he said. “I can’t cross him over if I only have one week to do it, that’s ridiculous.”

As for Pacquiao’s trainer, Roach agrees with Arum in regards to Manny’s unwillingness to help with promotional activities in the United States.

“What am I going to do?” he asks incredulously. “I can’t go on television and continuously talk about him. People don’t want to hear that. They want to hear him.”

Meanwhile, Pacquiao will party the night away before he sits down with Arum and Roach and readies himself for the task ahead that could very well be the toughest obstacle in front of him since his first bout with Erik Morales back in 2005 when ‘El Terrible’ beat him. Juan Manuel Marquez already proved that he could climb up off the deck and fight evenly with the Filipino icon and he has been champing at the bit to get Pacquiao back in the ring ever since. He has his chance now and is brimming with confidence.

Pacquiao, whose life in the Philippines is as hectic and suffocating as that of Elvis or the Beatles at their respective height, will have to put his trust in his promoter and trainer and return to Los Angeles to focus on only one thing, Juan Manuel Marquez. He can’t do it at home – he’s all things to all people in the Philippines, and that’s too much for even a national icon to handle.

Article posted on 17.12.2007

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