Sunday, June 04, 2023  |


Roach: Khan learning from Pacquiao

Fighters Network

Maybe some of Manny Pacquiao has rubbed off on Amir Khan, the former Olympian who stopped Marco Antonio Barrera on Saturday in Manchester, England.

Freddie Roach, who trains both fighters at his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., said the two have become fast friends since he began working with Khan last year and Pacquiao has become a role model for the younger fighter.

“Amir competes with Manny when they run and spar together,” Roach said. “When they spar, it’s tit for tat; they work well together. It’s like a cock fight, so intense. Amir steps up because he knows this is a different level. So the flurries are unbelievable.

“And they’ve formed a good friendship. Manny called him right after the (Barrera) fight. I think just being around Manny Pacquiao, a guy like that, has shown Amir what it takes to be a world champion.”

That could be next on Khan’s schedule after he battered Barrera to a fifth-round technical-decision victory.

Roach said Khan followed the game plan perfectly.

“We knew Barrera had trouble with speed and we used that,” he said. “Amir kept his hands up; the defensive stuff we worked on worked perfectly. I don’t think Barrera caught him with one clean shot other than a nice body shot.

“I told Amir, ‘When Barrera wants to fight you, make it hard for him to find you.’ We used lateral movement. And when he rested, we attacked with the jab. I told him not to throw the right unless you set it up behind the hook. He listened well.”

Roach doesn’t believe the cut was an important factor. It was Khan’s size and speed that spelled doom for the 35-year-old Mexican, he said.

“It wouldn’t have mattered,” he said. “ÔǪ (Barrera) came to win; he was just outclassed. I think Amir’s style would’ve given Barrera trouble even in his prime. It was the same advantage Manny had when he beat him: Barrera has trouble with speed.”

One question mark remains because Barrera didn’t land any big blows: Did Khan’s first-round knockout loss to Breidis Prescott last September expose a dangerously weak chin?

“It really wasn’t his chin that failed him,” Roach said. “He ran into a punch. When you run into a punch like that, you get knocked down. It’s part of boxing. He made a mistake. The thing is not to make the same mistake. He’s not perfect at it yet; he jumped in a few times against Barrera. But he’s getting better.

“ÔǪ Some people have better chins than others. If you don’t have a good chin, you just protect it. I don’t think he has a bad chin, though. I think it’s OK. Against Manny and other (sparring partners), he’s had no trouble. His confidence is back. He’s going to be hard to beat.”

Roach said Khan is ready for any fighter in and around the lightweight division right now – except two, Juan Manuel Marquez and Pacquiao.

“Marquez is a really tough fight right now,” he said. “I wouldn’t take Marquez right away. I’d like Amir to have a couple more fights, maybe against a (Joel) Casamayor or someone of that nature given his experience.

“If Marquez vacates the (WBO/WBA) title and moves up, maybe to fight (Floyd) Mayweather, that could be a possibility depending on who the No. 1 contender is.

“ÔǪ I definitely think he’ll be a world champion. He’s a special kid, a great athlete.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]