Back inside the friendly confines of his Wild Card Gym at 1123 Vine St. in Hollywood, California, trainer Freddie Roach and his charge Manny Pacquiao now have less than five weeks to go before meeting Timothy Bradley a second time at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Having spent the last several weeks training in Pacquiao’s native Philippines, the most famous trainer and fighter combination in the sport realize time is short and the challenge is great. Bradley of course was awarded a controversial decision victory over Pacquiao after their first meeting in June 2012. It has taken nearly two years to secure the rematch, but now the time for talking is nearly over.
“We have to avenge this loss,” said a determined sounding Roach yesterday when asked for his thoughts with the April 12 rematch looming. “We thought we won the first fight, most everybody else thought we won the first fight, but the judges didn’t think so. We need to change that.”
Pacquiao has only fought twice since he lost to Bradley and at age 35 he is in a must-win situation every time out. The shocking, one-punch knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez and a solid decision win over Brandon Rios have been the only two times Pacquiao has been in the ring.
“We need to get the killer instinct back into him a little bit,” said Roach. “We need to take advantage of the times when he gets a guy in a bad spot. I like hearing it when he says he wants to be the young Manny Pacquiao again. He knows one punch can change a fight – because it happened to him. If you have a chance to take a guy out – you need to take the guy out. My job is to light the fire under him.”
Roach was on record as saying that this fight could be a boring one as Bradley resorted to becoming more of a boxer instead of puncher in his previous bout, a winning effort against Juan Manuel Marquez. Roach believes that is the version of Bradley they will encounter next month. As a result, he says Pacquiao must be aggressive, he must show killer instinct and he must force Bradley to engage.
“Once we get him to exchange with us, that’s when we’ll catch him,” surmises Roach. “We’re the bigger puncher. Once we cut off the ring and force him to punch with us he will exchange and fight back with us because that’s his nature.”
Roach says he has been extremely happy with the training they have done so far. In the next several weeks they will amp up the intensity and Pacquiao will spar with former world champions Stevie Forbes and Kendall Holt. Justin Fortune has returned as the strength and conditioning coach so all the pieces of the puzzle seem to be in place. Pacquiao is currently a 2-1 favorite to regain his WBO welterweight title from Bradley.
“Manny means business this time,” said Roach. “Manny knows he needs to give the people what they want – and what they want is knockouts.”
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