Freddie Roach: I’m hoping that Pacquiao-Mayweather happens


Freddie Roachby Geoffrey Ciani – This week’s edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with world class trainer Freddie Roach who is best known for his work with pound for pound king Manny Pacquiao. In addition to training Pacquiao, Roach also works with reigning WBA junior welterweight champion Amir Khan who recently defended his title when he scored an impressive eleventh round stoppage against Paulie Malignaggi. Here is what Roach had to say on a variety of subjects:

His views on Amir Khan’s eleventh round technical knockout against Paulie Malignaggi:
“I thought he fought a great fight. We knew the jab was the key going into the fight and he really dictated the pace with that jab and I was very happy with his performance.”

On whether he was at all surprised that Malignaggi lasted as long as he did:
“You know, he did a lot of damage but he’s a real tough guy. He’s never been stopped before. I mean, his corner stopped the fight one time and he was enraged. There’s no quit in him. It was good to get the rounds in for my guy experience-wise, but it just surprises me that he went as far as he did because he was taking a lot of big shots..”

On how he believes Amir Khan has improved as a fighter since they began working together:
“Well you know, I got Amir after getting knocked out by Prescott and we worked for about a month together and then I put him in his first sparring session with Manny Pacquiao. People questioned me and said, ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’ It was kind of a test for him. He was either going home or showing me that he could fight. He showed me that he could still fight so we got rid of the demons of the Prescott tragedy for him and he’s been confident and just getting better, making fewer mistakes, holding to a game plan, and fighting the right fight by breaking fighters down and then taking them out at the end.”

On where he feels Amir Khan stands amongst the best in the talented rich 140 pound weight class:
“I think he’s the best out there potentially. He’s only 23 now, he’s very young. I think if we fight Maidana we won’t lose a round against him. I know he’s a big puncher but that’s all he does. Devon Alexander, I mean he’s been on TV once. Nobody really knows him yet. He’s a good southpaw, yes, but fighting the likes of Urango as your big test—I have no problem with Amir fighting him, either. Timothy Bradley, he’s a very improved fighter, I think he’s the most dangerous guy out there with us, but eventually we’ll get to him also, I’m sure.”

On who he would like to see Khan fight next:
“I’d like to see him fight Maidana next and then let Bradley and Alexander fight each other and the winners go onto fight each other for the unification of the 140 pound division.”

His opinion on Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin as a fighter:
“I started working with him a couple of weeks ago and he’s in New York right now so we haven’t made that final switch yet, but he’s a good puncher, a good prospect, has good hand speed. He boxed with Vanes and a couple of other of my guys and held his own. He’s a very impressive guy. He needs to just get more trust in both hands and not just try to load up with one. He does have a good left hook, but I feel he doesn’t have the confidence in that yet and his right hands is his homerun shot still, but he needs improvement and I think we can help him.”

On how far off he believes Quillin is from fighting the elite guys in his division:
“I don’t think it’s too far off. He does have a good record so far, but again, he needs to step up the quality of opponents. He does have that power and speed which is a great asset, and if he is accessible and wants to learn like Pacquiao and Amir do we’ll be fighting for a title I think in the short time, but again you have to treat everyone as an individual. Again, I’ve only worked with him for a week here and his work ethic was great for that week and if he can continue that I think we’ll get along fine.”

His evaluation of Pacquiao’s most recent victory against Joshua Clottey and whether he was at all concerned when Clottey started landing some big uppercuts late in that contest:
“The thing was with Clottey, it was very hard to bring him out of his shell and I expected Manny to make some moves that were dangerous, of course, and put him in a bad position but it would make his opponent throw punches and open him up for the counter shots to try to get that knockout. So that’s why I told him to stay in the pocket. In training camp, he was never allowed to fall into the pocket because that’s his opponent’s best weapon, is the uppercut of course—but the hook can beat the uppercut so I had him fall into the pocket on purpose just to get him to throw the uppercut and try to time it with the hook over the top. He fell for it a couple of times but we didn’t get the hook off fast enough so it didn’t work. We were just trying to open him the best we could and I think his performance was great. I think he beat a good middleweight that night, a very big strong guy, and he won every round.”

On the experience of being at Cowboys Stadium for the Pacquiao-Clottey fight:
“It was really, really a nice place. Cowboys Stadium is unbelievable—51,000 fans, it was very loud. The TVs are a little distracting, you know. They’re so big that you kind of watch the ring and you kind of gravitate up to the TVs because they’re so big, and it really was an experience.”

His views on the upcoming junior middleweight title fight between Yuri Foreman and Miguel Cotto:
“That’s a very good fight. You know Emanuel Steward’s training Cotto now so he’s got a good guy in his corner, an experienced guy, but I think I favor Yuri in the fight though because he’s a very, very good boxer and he gives anyone difficulties and seeing Cotto’s last two fights, he took a lot of punishment in those last two fights. I think I’m going to go with Yuri to win a decision, but again, it’s going to be a good competitive fight, though.”

His opinion on James Toney making the switch to MMA at this late stage in his career to fight Randy Couture:
“I think it’s a bad decision. I don’t think it will work. I think the UFC is just trying to say they’re better than boxing because if James fought Couture in a boxing match James would absolutely destroy him, but if he fights him in a UFC/MMA style fight James does not have a ground game, once he goes to the ground it’s over. It’s completely two different sports and they’re just trying to use older boxers to make their sport look better.”

On what it was like training actor Mickey Rourke to become a boxer:
“Well it was a little bit different because I had two world champions before that with Virgil Hill and Marlon Starling and when I moved to Hollywood Mickey came into the gym and wanted to get ready for some fights. We fought about I think eight to ten four round fights that were in Japan, Spain, Germany, we travelled around. It was a good experience. I think I taught Mickey discipline, I taught him how to get ready for a fight, we went down from 210 to 168 in weight, and he learned how to get in shape and became disciplined in his life, and I think that’s what’s helping his acting career out now. So I’m happy to see him back at what he does best and that is act, and I’m very happy for him.”

On the upcoming fight between Vanes Martirosyan and ‘Mean’ Joe Greene:
“Well you know, it is a step up and it’s something I feel we’re ready for. We’ve been working hard on his style. I’ve watched a lot of tapes of Greene and he’s a good puncher and he’s a very competitive fighter. I think we’re going to steal the show and I think it’s going to be the best fight of the night at Yankees Stadium.”

On when he would like to see Khan back inside the ring:
“Well, we want to get him back in the ring pretty soon. We’re talking about the end of July at this point, but we don’t know who the opponent may be, but it would possibly be in the UK. He wants to fight one more time before Ramadan and then he wants to fight in December. He wants two more fights this year, so he could be back in the ring as early as July.”

Regarding a possible showdown between Khan and Michael Katsidis:
“I’d take him in a heartbeat, no problem.”

On any final words he wanted to say to all the fans of On the Ropes Boxing Radio:
“Thanks a lot for your support. I’m hoping that Pacquia-Mayweather happens just like you. Hopefully we’ll get through that and it will be a good year.”


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