Freddie Roach is not a trainer that concentrates on defense. And that would make sense since in his own career as a prizefighter he was a come ahead, all-action guy that liked to make a fight out of things. Although he never reached the heights as a fighter that he has as a trainer, Roach is ornery, he likes to win and he has championship blood that courses through his veins.
So when Roach talks about how Manny Pacquiao is going to beat Timothy Bradley this Saturday night in their rematch at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, he makes no secret about what the strategy is going to be and how he and Pacquiao are going to go about things.
“Hopefully if everything goes well and we fight the right fight we will knock this guy out,” Roach said Monday. It is the same thing he has been saying for months about how he and Pacquiao are going to exact revenge and correct the injustice of the decision that was rendered against them after the first bout in June 2012. Pretty much everyone else in the world, save for two of the three official judges, believed Pacquiao won a wide decision. But it was Bradley who got the nod.
“The thing was it was so easy for Manny in the early rounds that in the later rounds he wasn’t throwing combinations like he usually does,” said Roach of the first fight. “He was just throwing single punches and kind of going through the motions. He thought he was very much ahead, of course, but we needed to be fighting aggressive three minutes of every round and if we fight at a fast pace like that we’ll be able to stop Bradley somewhere during the middle rounds along the way.”
Since the first bout, Roach has no idea how many times he has watched the first fight against Bradley, but it has been a lot. On that recording are the answers to the riddle that has become Timothy Bradley and Roach figures he has the answers on how to hand him his first loss. Bradley has become a better fighter since then and he has proven in wins over Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez that he can brawl and box. He has also proved that he is one of the best fighters in the world. Roach, however, believes he has discovered the formula to solve the Bradley equation.
“We're really not worried about his punching power so much,” explains Roach. “We can take a little more risk and chances, but to be honest with you, I really don't want Manny doing that so much or getting hit at all. I liked the Rios fight, he was in and out very fast with combinations. That's how I want him fighting in this fight. Quick combinations, don't stay in the pocket too long. Get out, make him miss, get back in. We have a good game plan down and he's perfected it. I think it's going to be great for this fight."
It is all on the line for Pacquiao in this bout. Should he lose, his career could likely be over with. At age 35 and a loser of 2 of his last 3, the handwriting is on the wall. Roach has admitted that “retirement is an option’ if Pacquiao loses so both he and Pacquiao have pulled out all the stops in training camp. The emphasis is on being aggressive, throwing loads of punches and going for the knockout if it presents itself. When asked if there is only one thing Manny must do to win, Roach is of the opinion the key to victory lies in the instances when the fighters trade punches.
“Bradley is a very willing guy and he is in very good shape. He does what he is supposed to do," explains Roach. “He boxed well against Marquez and he beat a good fighter. He likes to exchange a little bit also - so when we get into an exchange we will have to take advantage of that moment.”
And while hope is not a strategy, Freddie Roach hopes those moments are not fleeting.
Pick up a copy of T.K.'s new book, The Fight Racket: Inside the World of Professional Boxing
Follow T.K. on Twitter
Friend T.K. on Facebook
Find out more about T.K. at about.me