Freddie Roach sat down with the Wall Street Journal to discuss Pacquiao vs Marquez IV, Manny's time left in the sport, the Timothy Bradley robbery, Floyd Mayweather, and more.
Lee Hawkins, Wall Street Journal: "Last time I talked to you, Freddie Roach, were were right here at this gym, you were getting ready for the Timothy Bradley fight, and at that time, Manny had really stepped up his game in terms of his training. You were really confident. You were confident, he was confident, everyone pretty much was, because he had made a series of lifestyles changes to train harder. But he lost the fight. Do you still think about that fight? Because it was such a controversial decision."
Freddie Roach: "I don't think about it so much. You can't point fingers at anybody, because it didn't really benefit anybody. Timothy Bradley can't even get a fight now. A win like that hurt his own career. There's no need for a rematch, because I think the whole world knows we won that fight pretty easily. There's no demand for a rematch. That's why we're fighting Marquez for the fourth time instead of fighting Bradley in a rematch."
WSJ: "Lots of people are critical of Manny, saying his career is in decline. He's gonna be 34. Is his career in decline?"
Roach: "No, I don't feel it's in decline. Not yet, at least. His work ethic and his training and his discipline is very good. He hasn't shown me any signs of wear and tear, losing his speed or his power. He just has to be mentally, I think, we need a little fire under him. We've got to get him to stop being so compassionate. He doesn't want to hurt his opponent sometimes."
WSJ: "You're the guy who started the whole trend of training with Shakira, so maybe that's part of it."
Roach: "That may be."
WSJ: "In the fight against Bradley, he looked great. It was one of those things he was hitting Bradley a lot harder than Bradley was hitting him, but it looked like when he got aggressive, he was holding back. He would get aggressive in the later rounds, and then he would kind of hold back and not finish him off. Was that your strategy in that fight?"
Roach: "No, my strategy is to finish the opponent, of course, but he felt that he didn't need to hurt Bradley. He just wanted to beat him. I told Manny, people like knockouts. That's part of the game. You better have that killer instinct. We need to bring that back, and he realizes that at this point. And he knows that he has to go back to the Manny of 2004, the one that was knocking Ricky Hatton and people with one punch. We've had Marquez down four times now, we just need to keep him down at this point."
WSJ: "One of the things about him, when you watch him fight he's very offensively aggressive. Probably one of the most offensive, the best offensive boxers out there. Are you gonna bring that aggressiveness back?"
Roach: "Yeah, we have to. The thing is, we're fighting a great counter puncher, though, who is a very, very smart fighter. If we get too aggressive and too wild, he can counter punch us and set us up for disaster, actually. So we've got to be a little careful with this guy, because he is a great counter puncher. But we do need to attack him and we're coming up with a little bit of a different look this time. He's a lot more muscular now. He's not as fast anymore. He's kind of slow, but he's trying to improve his punching power. He's gonna be looking for a knockout, too. I think that will help us get what we want."
WSJ: "In terms of Manny's speed, that's one of the great things about him. He's light, but that makes him faster. Every pound gives him an advantage. How is he in terms of his speed now? We watched him work out and he looked pretty great."
Roach: "Yeah, his speed's great. It hasn't declined at all. His speed and power is still there. Manny asked me, 'When I slow down, will you tell me?' I said, I'll be the first one to tell you. I said, will you retire when I tell you? He said yes, he will. So that would be a first."
WSJ: "You mentioned how smart Marquez is. Some have said he's smarter than Manny, and that could be one of the things that helps him outmatch Manny, or beat Manny. Is that a fair assessment? Is he smarter than Manny?"
Roach: "No. He's smarter on the counter punching style, yes, but not overall. You've got an aggressive guy and a counter puncher. And the thing is, I think that's why we won two of the close fights, and one was a draw, and I thought we won that one also. Why we won those fights, is because we were the aggressor. In a close round, it's a very close round, kind of even, the judges will always give the aggressor the round. They're the one making the fight happen. (Marquez) doesn't have the heart to do that. With all this muscle, it looks like he wants to come after us a bit this time. I welcome that with open arms."
WSJ: "In the sparring, you could see that Manny was aggressive, and even his sparring partners were trying to knock the guy's head off. Some of those are your guys, right? These are guys that you're training."
Roach: "They're all my guys."
WSJ: "Who was the one that's 13-0?"
Roach: "That is Frankie Gomez. He's a very good prospect right now. He's 13-0, and he's the future, I think."
WSJ: "Is that kind of your strategy? That you want to go all-out in the practices, so that he is going to be more aggressive when he gets in there?"
Roach: "I have to put him in there with guys he can't take it easy with. He has to pay attention. If he doesn't pay attention when he's in with (someone) from Russia, the first sparring partner, or Frankie, he will get tagged, and I might lose $1,000, because I've got a deal, anyone who puts Manny down gets an extra $1,000. We don't have sparring partners just going rounds and so forth. We've got guys in there trying to beat Manny, and make Manny be the best he can."
WSJ: "It sounds like Manny's going for a knockout."
Roach: "It's the first time in 13 years that he's told me that we need a knockout to win. Usually he'll say, God will decide, so forth. At the press conference in Los Angeles, he carved into the desk, we need a knockout. He knows he needs a knockout to win this fight. I feel that when the fight starts, we're down 3-0 because people feel sorry for the other guy, because he's lost those close fights. Judges are human. Manny needs to be really impressive, and I feel we need a knockout, and he does also."
WSJ: "Is part of that because of the nature of the last fight, because if you had just knocked him out, there wouldn't be room for any subjectivity?"
Roach: "We got booed heavily in the last fight, because a lot of people thought Marquez won that fight. I thought Manny had the edge because of the aggressiveness, but it was very close, and if we had lost, I couldn't complain. It could have gone either way."
WSJ: "When you look at the judging in the Bradley fight, and the draw and all of these different things that have happened in Manny's past, have you lost any faith or confidence in the judging in boxing?"
Roach: "Judges are human, and it's a subjective sport."
WSJ: "But even something that was so clearly on Manny's side."
Roach: "How they came up with the Bradley -- I think they held up the Marquez fight against us in that fight. That's why we just talked to the judges today, and we got all neutral officials. One Nevada, one U.S., one from the U.K., and the referee is the best referee out there, Kenny Bayless. So I think we'll get a fair shot this time. But the thing is, I don't want him to leave it in the judges' hands this time. I want him to wipe that out and go for the knockout. Manny's had this man down four times. We need to keep him down this time."
WSJ: "Out in the public, when you talk to fans, and go back to the Philippines, and talk to people there, have people lost faith in boxing? Has it hurt? Was that last fight a black eye for boxing?"
Roach: "Yeah, definitely, it has hurt the sport. We need to be careful with that, because we're going to ruin our own sport by these type of decisions. Like I said, though, I can't really blame anybody for that. I don't know why it happened. Some people say there was a fix in there. The fix didn't help anybody. Unless somebody may have bet on Bradley, but we didn't hear that yet."
WSJ: "I know you're probably tired of talking about it. There's enough to talk about in the future here, because of the Floyd Mayweather situation. Manny has now said he'll take 55-45, he'll take a drug test, he'll do whatever he needs to do to fight. What's happening with that?"
Roach: "Nothin'. Floyd's not talking too much right now. That's a dream fight, and I think boxing needs that fight to happen to stay alive and keep the MMA group from taking over. We need the best fighting the best. That is the fight of the century right there."
WSJ: "Will that fight happen in 2013?"
Roach: "If it doesn't happen, it'll be a real shame. It should've happened -- it should happen next. If Manny wins his next fight and looks impressive, and wins by knockout like we plan to, it sets everything up for the biggest fight in the world. There would be no losers there."
WSJ: "In the last training camp, you talked about how Manny stopped drinking, he sold his clubs, he did all of these things, got more into the Bible, got religious. We just had a moment of silence after he did his workout. Has he maintained that lifestyle?"
Roach: "The only thing he's gone back to is he plays basketball again."
WSJ: "OK, well that's not all that bad."
Roach: "That's not that bad. He stopped playing basketball a lot. He doesn't bet on the games anymore, but he still plays. That's his favorite sport. He loves to play basketball, and that's how he stays in shape between fights."
WSJ: "All in all, when you look at all the fighters that you've trained, where does Manny fall in?"
Roach: "Manny's probably number one. I've trained some great fighters. I've had James Toney, Tyson, Stevie Collins, a two-time world champion. I've had some great fighters, and I've had 31 world champions that I've worked with. But Pacquiao's number one. He's the best guy in the world."
WSJ: "How long could he go?"
Roach: "I would say Pacquiao can go two more years."
WSJ: "Two more years. So that Mayweather fight has to happen soon."
Roach: "It has to happen soon, because we don't want to see them fight each other in their decline. We want to see them fight the best they can be, and that's right now. Come on, Mayweather, show up. Sign that contract."