Freddie Roach ‘On the Ropes’ Complete Interview Transcript
by Geoffrey Ciani & Jenna J - (The following interview transcript with Freddie Roach aired in episode 60 of On the Ropes, February 15, 2010)
Jenna J: Freddie Roach, welcome to the On the Ropes Boxing Radio Show. How’s it going today?
Freddie Roach: How are you?
JJ: I’m doing very good. Since we have you on the show, I think one of the things that people really want to hear from you is how are Manny Pacquiao’s preparations going for his March 13 bout with Joshua Clottey?
FR: He’s doing great. He’s in great shape already. His weight’s already—well he came in on weight when he came in on his first day, but we’re trying to keep the weight on him with the protein shakes and feeding him five times a day, but he sparred eight rounds yesterday. He’s looking to get the game plan down and he looks great..
JJ: Now speaking of weight, that’s something that comes into this bout as Joshua Clottey, for most all intents and purposes, will actually be the largest man that Manny Pacquiao has faced in his career as he often comes in the ring between 160 and 165 pounds. Are you at all worried about that weight pressing down on Manny Pacquiao and tiring him down later in the fight?
FR: No. He has no problem with the weight. At the weigh-in, they both have to weigh 147 pounds. If he goes up that high I really think it hurts his performance, because putting too much weight on after in a 24 hour period is something horrible to do to your body which will make him slow and sluggish, but the thing is, he’s not going to find us so I’m really not worries about his weight.
JJ: Well talking about things that you could possibly be worried about, what do you think Joshua Clottey does in the ring that can pose some problems for Manny Pacquiao?
FR: Well the more I watch Clottey the more mistakes I find in him and I’m very confident Manny is going to knock him out and be the first person to knock him out. I know he has a good chin. He’s a tough guy and he’s a nice guy, but just studying the tapes of him, he won’t last twelve rounds with Manny Pacquiao in my opinion.
JJ: Now, Manny Pacquiao has fought Miguel Cotto and that’s a similar opponent that Joshua Clottey has fought. Watching that fight with Joshua Clottey and Cotto, what are your opinions of that fight in Clottey’s last performance?
FR: Well, the Cotto fight was a good close fight, but he gave the fight away in the last two rounds. I thought Cotto won the fight down the stretch and it seemed like Clottey gave it away because he thought he was ahead on points and he was coasting and that’s something my fighters never do. You can’t take anything for granted in this sport. The fight was right there for the taking but he didn’t want it.
JJ: Alright. Well Freddie, we’re also joined by my Co-Host Geoff Ciani—Geoff.
Geoffrey Ciani: Hi Freddie, a pleasure to speak with you.
FR: How are you?
GC: I’m doing great, thank you. When I recently spoke to Emanuel Steward one of the things—and this s actually before the Cotto-Clottey fight—Emanuel Steward said, “Clottey is a fighter I would not want any fighter to fight. He would have been a rough fighter for Sugar Ray Leonard, for Tommy Hearns, and for any other welterweight in history” and he went on to say how he respects any fighter that goes on to fight Joshua Clottey. My question for you is, do you think this will be Pacquiao’s toughest test to date?
FR: No, I don’t. I think fighting at 130-135 with (Juan Manuel) Marquez and (Erik) Morales—those guys were tougher fights. Clottey, you know, I’ve been studying him. He does the same thing over and over. His best asset is he has a good chin, but he throws the same combinations, and he takes rests on the ropes, and has that passive defensive. I’m not overly impressed. The more tapes I watch, the more confident I get.
GC: Now going back in time Freddie, the first huge fight where Pacquiao really burst onto the scene was in his upset victory against Marco Antonio Barrera back at a time when Barrera was considered one of the best pound-for-pound in the sport. Can you tell us about your thoughts going into that fight and a little bit about your thoughts on the fight itself?
FR: Well, obviously I thought it was going to be a tough fight because Barrera was on top of everything at that time. He was a step up for us, of course, from when we won the title from (Lehlohonolo) Ledwaba and he was like the first major fight we fought in Texas. We had a great training camp and everything went really well. I know Barrera had a little problem in Big Bear with the fires and so forth, and so his training camp was disrupted a little bit from what they say. I remember that day very well because I remember when Manny Pacquiao was at the weigh-in and there just happened to be a pool table right there, and he set up a shot, and he sank eight balls with one shot—and they all went in on the first try. I got on the phone and I told my friends, “Bet the fight. He’s on a roll”. Everything was clicking. We had a great training camp and that was his best performance—and one of his best performances since. Yeah, that was a great night for him.
GC: Now not long after that Barrera fight he went on to face Juan Manuel Marquez in the fight where he dropped the Mexican warrior three times in the first round and it looked like the fight was over, and then it wound up being a very competitive fight that was ultimately ruled a draw. What were your thoughts after the first round and were you surprised what a difficult fight that one became?
FR: Well, I knew Marquez was a slick fighter but I didn’t know he was that adaptable. He showed me a lot more than I thought he had, but Manny was just left hand crazy in that fight, though, and he only had one hand at that time. He kept looking for the knockout punch, and that was just a young man’s mistake and he was young and immature a little bit. He’s a whole different person now, of course. That was when Manny Pacquiao, someone told me at that time, he’d be ordinary if he didn’t have that left hand. And that’s when I said, I got to go start working on that right hand and start making that as good as the left. So I think that they’re about equal now, and that was a good learning lesson for us.
JJ: Now Freddie, following up on that, after that fight he ended up fighting Erik Morales and that was the last loss in his career and it was a fight that was very close and Manny Pacquiao lost it in the later rounds. Do you think that loss at all helped Manny Pacquiao become a better fighter, that that loss was good for him in his career?
FR: Yeah, I do think it was good for him, actually, because he went into the fight kind of leery a little bit. He didn’t feel that well going into the fight because we made a mistake with the commission and we had to give blood the day before the fight. When Manny gives blood he just doesn’t feel good for a couple of days, and he told me he felt weak going into the ring. But it was a great fight for us. It was a very close competitive fight. Morales won, and Manny accepted it very well. He told me, “There’s a winner and a loser. We lost tonight, but we’re going to get better”, and that’s when we got working harder, and just working on his footwork, and getting everything into place.
JJ: Now less than a year later, you guys rematched Erik Morales with Manny Pacquiao. What was the major difference between the first fight and the second fight?
FR: The right hand, Manny had two and he used it very well. The thing is, when he touches him with the right hand people forget about the powerful left, and he set the knockout up perfectly.
JJ: Touching back on currently what was happening with Manny Pacquiao, his last fight was against Miguel Cotto. It was a fight at welterweight. He won the welterweight championship, but watching that fight, what mistakes do you see that Manny Pacquiao made that you think he can improve on when he fights Joshua Clottey?
FR: Well he laid on the ropes too much for me, and with Clottey, we’re working on not getting caught on the ropes at all. He just wanted to prove to himself and to Cotto that he was the stronger guy because everyone said Cotto is so much bigger and stronger. Sometimes Manny will do that, but I told him with Joshua Clottey—that’s when he does his best work, when he has you on the ropes. He has great uppercuts and hooks. I said I think it’s a good idea to stay off, and he agrees with me. So far we’re working on staying off the ropes, but you never know with Manny Pacquiao.
GC: Freddie, changing things up a little bit, I’m curious—who are some of the other trainers in the sport today that you respect the most?
FR: You know, I think the guy from Philadelphia…
FR: He’s training Shane Mosley right now.
GC: Yeah. Naz Richardson.
FR: Yeah, Naz. I think he’s a very good coach. Buddy McGirt’s a good coach. There’s a handful of good trainers out there, still, but not too many.
GC: Now as a trainer, what would you consider your proudest moment in training a fighter?
FR: I’ve had a lot of good fighters and a lot of good wins and stuff like that, but I guess the one that sticks out in my mind the most is the Erik Morales rematch because that was when I had to prove that Manny was better than just a left-handed puncher. He really started to put things together a lot better, and now he’s almost like a textbook perfect fighter now. I mean, he’s not that wild and not looking for knockouts all the time. I remember that win over Morales was very satisfying.
JJ: Now Freddie, something that’s impressed most boxing fans is the way that Manny Pacquiao has moved up through the weight classes. I mean, starting out as a 106 pound fighter and 112 pound champion all the way up to welterweight—what do you think has allowed Manny to be so successful when most fighters usually decline as they move up in weight and Manny Pacquiao seems to have excelled?
FR: Well I don’t really believe that’s true, because anyone that dominates is a good fighter in their era. They dominate different weight divisions, also, because they’re always looking for a bigger and better challenge. Sugar Ray Leonard had six world titles, Tommy Hearns had six world titles, Manny Pacquiao has seven. I mean the thing is, we’re looking for bigger challenges. He’s really a 140-pounder. He came into camp at 147, so he’s not that big a guy but he just wants a bigger challenge and the best challenges right now happen to be at welterweight. You know it’s not uncommon for this to happen. From Henry Armstrong, to Roberto Duran, to Leonard and Hearns, and even to (Floyd) Mayweather—the best fighters of their errors, they dominate a lot of divisions.
JJ: Now Freddie, when you first started training Manny Pacquiao could you have ever imagined that he would have become the fighter that he is today?
FR: No, never. I mean I was really impressed after one round on the mitts and I said, “Wow, this guy can really fight”, but never in my dreams did I think he’d be defending the welterweight title and we’ve gone this far and it’s been a great ride.
JJ: Well switching things up a little bit Freddie, you train a lot of other fighters in the sport and one of the ones that seems to be getting the most attention of late with his improvement is Amir Khan. Can you tell us what it’s been like working with him and the improvements that he’s seemingly gained since he’s been working with you?
FR: Well we’re just working mostly on his fundamentals. He was just making fundamental mistakes. He was spreading his hands when he was hooking and so forth and that’s why he got knocked out by (Breidis) Prescott, but the thing is we’re putting him in better positions right now and just working on his all around game. He has great speed and he has decent power, so he has good assets of course, but he has to use them in the correct way. Right now we’re just in the process of trying to make him and Marquez, and hopefully that fight will happen soon.
JJ: Now if that fight is made, from what you’ve seen of Marquez’s last fight with Mayweather, how do you think Amir Khan will do?
FR: Obviously I want the fight, so I think he’ll win the fight but by no means is it an easy fight because Marquez is very respectable and he’s a very intelligent fighter and if you make mistakes with him he’ll make you pay for it. So the thing is Amir has to be really focused for this fight, and I think it will be a great introduction to America for him and I think it’s a good fight for him at this moment. Again, it’s not an easy fight by any means, but no world titles are real easy, anyway.
GC: Freddie, one of the fights I’d like to get your opinion on that you worked in the corner for Bernard Hopkins was his fight with (Joe) Calzaghe. As a trainer, what did you see going on in that fight?
FR: Well I thought Bernard, if he let his hands go, he could have beat him because I thought he was the stronger guy. He hurt him early in the fight, but Calzaghe was just too active for him. He’s not a big puncher but he scored a lot of points. Working the corner when things are going well and when you’re winning is the easiest thing in the world, but trying to get a fighter to change what he’s doing to make him be successful to win the fight—it’s very frustrating when you can’t get it across to the fighter and I could not get my point across to Bernard that he needed to let his hands go. I thought he could have won that fight easily if he just did, but you know, Calzaghe is a difficult guy and he does throw a lot of punches and he scores a lot of points. I was disappointed in the outcome, of course but it’s part of life though. I think losing sucks and I hate losing but it happens once in awhile.
GC: Were you surprised when Bernard came back after that and wound up dominating Kelly Pavlik, I think it was six months after that?
FR: I was pleasantly surprised. He finally let his hands go and I told him, if he had done that with Calzaghe he would have knocked him out, too. But Bernard for some reason he didn’t let his hands go in the Calzaghe fight but in the Pavlik fight he looked terrific. Now I hear he’s fighting Roy Jones again, so that’s a rematch and I think he’ll get the win there.
JJ: Alright. Freddie, well we have just a few more questions before we let you go and one of the ones I want to ask you is out of the fighters that you’ve trained in your career besides Manny Pacquiao, which one has been the biggest pleasure to work with?
FR: You know, twenty-six world champions and stuff and they’re all pretty good guys and I get along with them all real well—but I’m going to say I think second to Pacquiao though, I liked training Mike Tyson. Mike was respectable. He was a real nice guy. I know when I say that about Mike people think I’m crazy and stuff like that, but he respects me and he worked for me and I just liked his personality. He had some great stories about boxing and just hanging out with him was a pleasure, actually.
JJ: Great. Well I want to get your opinions also, too, a little bit on the current boxing landscape. Now one of the biggest matches that has been made this year is Shane Mosley versus Floyd Mayweather Junior. What are your thoughts on that fight and who do you think will take it down?
FR: I think it’s a great fight. Shane’s been after that fight for a long time, but I do feel that Mayweather will win the fight. Shane’s my friend and when I can’t bet with my heart I bet with skills, and I think Shane does well with Mexican type of style fighters because that’s what he grew up with in L.A. and guys that come forward he does very well with, but he does have trouble with speed and he has trouble with people who move like Mayweather and I think Mayweather will outscore him. It’s a very competitive fight, and it’s great to see that fight happening and hopefully the winner of this fight will fight the winner of Pacuqio-Clottey. It would be a great match-up.
JJ: Now you trained Manny Pacquiao and you said numerous times that you don’t think Manny has that many more fights that you want him to fight left in his career. How many more matches do you think he’ll fight with you?
FR: Well if Mayweather doesn’t come around after this fight and sign to fight us, this could be our last one.
JJ: Really? Alright, well before I close you out I want to ask you, do you have a prediction? Now you said knockout for Manny Pacquiao, but do you have an exact prediction because you’ve been very bold in your predictions when it comes to Manny Pacquiao against Clottey?
FR: Well Clottey, obviously, we’re going to have to break him down and it will be in the late, late rounds and I’m just going to be the under that it won’t go twelve rounds. I really don’t have a number in mind, because I think we will get him somewhere along the way, but it’s going to be a battle up until that point, though. I do think with the body shots and the work rate that we have, I don’t think Clottey will keep up with us so a late round knockout I would say.
JJ: Alright. Well it’s been a pleasure talking to you. My final question for you is this: Is there anything you want to say to all the boxing fans out there and the fans over at eastsideboxing.com?
FR: I would just like to thank you for your support and I’m happy to be with Manny Pacquiao because I think he makes me the trainer I am today and he makes me look good. So I appreciate it, and thank you very much.
JJ: Alright, thank you very much and we wish you the best of luck with Manny and his fight March 13.
FR: Thank you. Take care.
GC: Thanks Freddie, good luck!
For those of you who missed the episode and would like to listen to it in its entirety, CLICK HERE. (If you just want to listen to the Roach interview, it starts at approximately 60 minutes into the show).