By P.H. Burbridge – If Manny Pacquiao loses Saturday night will Freddie Roach admit that the distractions at the Wild Card Gym played a role? One of the curious things about Manny’s training camp leading into the Hatton fight are all the apparent distractions at the Wild Card Gym. Historically, fighters went away to train for big fights and essentially lived a Spartan life style. No wives, no girlfriends and no hanger-on’s. The distractions were purposely kept to a minimum and the only Press allowed in was for promotional purposes only. The Wild Card Gym is a hot bed of activity from movie actors hanging out to Pacquiao’s fan base coming in to be near their idol to HBO’s camera crew trying to put together a show.. It doesn’t matter what Freddie say’s if he was completely honest he would have to admit that having famous people hanging around is a distraction not only to Manny but to himself. Now, the HBO camera crew is also present in the Hatton camp but he doesn’t have the other two groups to distract him. Hatton is in Vegas which you would think would be distraction galore but Floyd Sr has him working out in a more remote location. They’re not accepting “guests”. Making time to shake hands, to exchange pleasantries and take pictures has no place in a training camp. A camp should be completely focused on every aspect of the opponents skill set and the various tactical scenarios that could play out in the fight. The best fighters and their trainers typically train under CLOSED conditions. There can be NO legitimate explanation for an open environment. It can only take away from the fighter’s preparation and offer your opponent some insights that can be exploited in the ring.
Now, obviously Roach is being somewhat tactical in his approach of showing Manny’s sparring sessions and there’s no doubt that there’s a method to his madness. My point is that the payoff for such a tactical move is probably so small that it’s mostly a waste of time. Freddie has been openly saying that he wants Hatton and Mayweather Sr to “know” that Manny is knocking out sparring partners that Ricky previously struggled with in prior camps.
My issue with that statement is that it proves nothing. Who knows what the circumstances of those previous sparring sessions and what difference does it make if Manny is mastering those guys in his camp? When you’re sparring you typically don’t go all out for a number of reasons but primarily you don’t want to incur any damage to your hands and impact your fight date. It’s like a NFL football team’s training camp. You can’t have your defense crippling your Quarterback in camp so you just run through the timing sequences. In other words “light contact”. That’s all. You’re wearing the big gloves anyway. Chances are if Hatton wanted to knock those sparring partners out he would have done so. You save that for the fight. Freddie knows that so why the charade? Couldn’t that time be better spent?
In Freddie’s defense I’m sure this all kind of took him by surprise to a certain extent. Manny has become a bigger star than he could have imagined and all these demands on his time are coming from all corners. I’m just surprised that Roach didn’t shut some of this stuff down sooner and it appears to have lasted for the entirety of the camp.
We won’t know if any of this has hurt Manny until late Saturday night but one thing is clear.
It sure couldn’t have helped him!
(Please feel free to contact P.H. Burbridge via email at PHBboxing@yahoo.com with any comments or feedback.)