Smoke Signals from Camp Pacquiao?

Commentary by P.H. Burbridge -- I have some concerns.

It’s amazing that so much information is coming out of Manny Pacquiao’s camp and so little is coming out of Miguel Cotto’s. Cotto is quietly preparing for “the fight that will make it all right” with limited press releases and statements while daily updates are coming out of the Pacquiao camp. Shawn Porter, Manny’s key sparring partner has expressed how impressed he is with Pacquiao’s talent and believes that Manny will “shock the world again!” Freddie Roach has changed his prediction back to a KO for Manny and has sent for Jose Luis Castillo to join a growing list of sparring partners. Jose Luis Castillo, Freddie?? Are you serious?? What benefit do you see in that? Castillo is FAR past his prime and doesn’t appear to have any similarities to Cotto whatsoever. He didn’t have any similarities IN HIS PRIME much less now. Cotto can counter punch and make adjustments, Castillo fights one way all the time. This is puzzling and the fact that Freddie has also indicated that he would send Castillo packing if he showed up and wasn’t in shape is yet another puzzling statement.. You don’t KNOW if the guy’s in shape? Couldn’t you have had Jose Luis show up at the Wild Card Gym first for one of your assistants to put him through some kind of a try out that could be filmed and sent to you in advance so you could make the call? What are you doing bringing him all the way to the Philippines just to find out that he’s got a gun but no bullets? I can think of 5 YOUNG fighters you could have brought on who resemble Miguel Cotto much more closely than Castillo.

What’s really going on here?

You’re staring down the barrel at one of the strongest fighters in the welterweight division and you’re flying in Jose Luis Castillo? Don’t get me wrong I think Castillo was a terrific fighter in his day but that was a long time ago by boxing standards and the last time we saw him Ricky Hatton was crushing him to the body. He’s a shell of himself and if you’re looking for a guy who CAN’T pull the trigger then Castillo’s your guy!

Is the inevitable happening? Are Freddie’s initial fears about training in the Philippines coming to true? In an earlier article, I supported Freddie’s logic in pointing to the mountains of Toluca, Mexico as the appropriate locale to set up training camp for two reasons #1, the high altitude and #2, the availability of excellent sparring partners. Roach indicated that he was concerned about getting quality sparring partners to take that long flight to the Philippines. The problem with training in the Philippines is that most young fighters of note worthy of sparring with the Champ are typically booked to fight every 8-12 weeks so to commit to an assignment that calls for them to spend what amounts to a month in a foreign country jeopardizes their own fight schedule. You eliminate all the young guys who could really provide excellent sparring and your talent pool starts to get pretty shallow. Now, Shawn Porter is a very good young fighter who does share some similarities with Cotto “physically” but certainly does not have the in ring experience to help Manny capture the nuances of Miguel Cotto’s overall style. That’s why Roach has an array of guys who each represent a certain aspect of Cotto’s technical range.

I don’t see how Castillo fits in to that equation.

Is Roach seeing something in training that he believes Castillo could help fix? What could explain this odd choice in a sparring partner outside of Roach’s inability to get the fighters that he really wants? If you hear that Castillo comes and goes in less than a week then assume there’s trouble in the Pacquiao camp. How significant, we just don’t know but suffice it say whatever the level is Freddie Roach probably isn’t overjoyed with the way things are going so far in the Philippines. There is constant press presence and Manny is engaged in too many outside activities after the training sessions and on the weekends. Roach definitely wants out of the Philippines so he can get some real work done.

Expect camp to get some spark back when they move on to the States for the final phase. Freddie should be able to get excellent sparring partners then.

Forty days until the fight night!

Freddie has also recently stated that “Cotto has problems with southpaws”. EVERYBODY has problems with southpaws, Freddie you know that! Ali had trouble with Karl Mildenburger! (At least a little!) His evidence was Cotto’s fight with Zab Judah in which Judah had some early success in a fight that Cotto eventually ended in the 11th round. Well, Zab Judah in his prime was an excellent, world class fighter who in the minds of many wasted his talent due to a lack of discipline. It started with his carelessness against Kotsya Tzyu and continued on in a number of fights including the unlikely loss to Carlos Baldomir. Zab gave everybody trouble in the early part of fights when he was fresh and if Roach believes that Manny can replicate Judah’s technique for an entire fight I think many of us would be stunned if that happened. There aren’t many similarities between Zab and Manny aside from the fact that they’re both obviously southpaws plus Cotto clearly made the necessary adjustments in that fight to nullify Judah’s tactics and to overtake him down the stretch. The same might be true come November 14th. The Judah fight also showed that Cotto is open to changing the momentum of a fight with a well placed foul. He threw what I believe were intentional low blows to thwart Zab’s attack and to take his legs away. AND, it worked! I don’t agree with that tactic for obvious reason but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw something of a similar nature in the Pacquiao fight especially if Miguel finds himself in a bind. The big challenge for Roach is getting Manny to adjust to Cotto’s adjustments and to avoid being lured in to a counter. The punch that worked great for Judah was his left uppercut which caught Cotto coming in. Manny’s best punch is a straight left hand which Cotto should be able to defend against. (For the most part) I don’t think Manny’s left uppercut is comparable to Judah’s so I’m not sure how much value Roach will find in reviewing that particular fight aside from Judah’s overall movement which appeared to keep him out of harms way until the 11th . I actually think that Cotto did very well in that fight concerning the challenge of dealing with a fast southpaw.

The final “smoke signal” coming out of the Pacquiao camp is the on going feud between Freddie Roach and Manny’s agent/advisor Mike Koncz. According to a recent article by a well known boxing scribe, Koncz is quoted as stating that Manny should essentially “dump Freddie!” This is all unofficial and was supplied through this boxing scribe’s back channel but based on what we know of this hate, hate relationship it sounds pretty reliable.

Apparently, Koncz believes that Roach is “an unnecessary expense at this juncture of Manny's career. He doesn't need Freddie. Freddie needs Manny.” According to Koncz, Roach is also being paid too much. Koncz is quoted as saying that Roach is not getting his normal 10 % which would have paid him $1.2 mil and he’s now down to $1 mil because Manny worked it out that way and Freddie agreed to it. So far I haven’t heard Roach say one word about that so he doesn’t appear to be concerned about it or least not publicly.

But, what about this “dumping” business?

"I told Manny to dump Freddie, I really did," Koncz said. "It's an unnecessary expense at this juncture of Manny's career. He doesn't need Freddie. Freddie needs Manny.”

Wait, one more!

"I told Manny that he trains himself anyway so why pay Freddie so much money. I am always looking for ways to save Manny money and that expense is unjustified."!!!


I hope you’re going to come out with a statement VERY, VERY SOON indicating that “you made NO SUCH statements” and that you were taken completely out of context!! If you don’t then you are absolutely and totally MAD!!


Let me help you with something. Freddie Roach is the reason you even have a job right now. There’s NO WAY IN HELL that Manny is devising any of these tactical plans and executing them to a “T” ON HIS OWN! No way in hell!! And, if Manny loses this fight it will because you guys stopped listening to Freddie Roach when ALL ALONG he has been saying that Miguel Cotto would be the toughest fight of Manny’s career.

When Roach says “let’s train in Mexico” you should advise Manny to train in Mexico! When Freddie says “we don’t want any distractions” YOU don’t book Manny on every variety show in the country, every commercial he’s offered and put him another one of those ridiculous films!!

ADVISE him to do what he does BEST which is fight!!

Whatever influence you have over Manny in MY OPINION is starting to take on a real destructive and counter productive overtone so if you’re truly his “advisor” then you better start listening to what Freddie is saying especially everything related to fight preparation.

Because if you don’t come fight night you may find yourself sorting through the ashes and trying to figure out what’s left of your client’s career!

(Please feel free to contact P.H. Burbridge via email at with any comments or feedback.)

Article posted on 06.10.2009

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