Tuesday, August 16, 2022  |


Roach unable to reach Pacquiao


If you run into Manny Pacquiao, tell him Freddie Roach would like to talk to him.

Roach, the pound-for-pound king’s Los Angeles-based trainer, can’t seem to reach his fighter in the Philippines even though his next fight — against Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14 in Las Vegas — is only 10 weeks away.

At issue is the location of their training camp. Pacquiao must train all but three weeks outside the United States for the bulk of camp to save on taxes. The question is: Where will they go?

“Well, I don’t know,” Roach said. “No one has contacted me. Mike Koncz [Pacquiao’s advisor] said, ‘You don’t have to talk to Freddie Roach. He’s just the trainer.’ If he wants to have that attitude, what can I do?”

Roach thinks camp will end up in the worst place possible.

“I have a camp set up in Toluca, Mexico,” he said. “I have an offer to go to Puerto Vallarta. I have an offer to go to Cancun. I have an offer to go to the Bahamas. I would say Toluca is the best option. It’s private, quiet, not a vacation-type of area. The gym is owned by the government. It’s a very safe place. A federal marshal works up there; he’d be with us the whole time. Security wouldn’t be a problem. And it’s not a dangerous place.

“My gut feeling, though, is that we’ll end up in the Philippines.”

Roach likes the Philippines. He just doesn’t want to train Pacquiao there.

“Wherever I get him, I’ll make sure he’s ready for the fight,” he said. “The thing is, there are a lot of distractions in the Philippines. One weekend, this governor will want to fly him here. The next weekend, another governor will want to fly him there. It’s just a hassle.

“Once I get Manny, though, he listens to me. As long as I’m in front of him. Right now I can’t talk to him on the phone. Unfortunately they’re [Koncz] is blocking my phone calls.”

Roach did talk to Koncz.

“I said, ‘Where are we training?'” he said. “‘I haven’t asked Manny yet,’ he told me. I said, ‘You haven’t asked him? What do you mean? The fight is right around the corner and you haven’t asked him yet.’ He’s scared to ask him where he wants to train.

“Manny will make a decision. I think it’ll be in Baguio, where their Olympic training center is. It’s in the north. I’ve never been there but it doesn’t’ matter. Wherever we go there’ll be distractions.”

The indecision couldn’t have come at a worse time. Roach was asked how tough this fight will be.

“The toughest fight of Manny’s life,” he said. “Cotto is getting ready for this fight. He’s in camp already. He knows a win over Manny Pacquiao erases everything else in the past. That’s why he’s in camp early, getting into shape. This guy beat Shane Mosley, a speed guy. He knows how to nullify speed. Someone told me Cotto’s not fast enough. I said, ‘What do you mean he’s not fast enough? He beat Shane Mosley.’ It was a good, close fight but he won. He knows how to deal with speed.

“He’s taking this very serious. We have to respect that. If I could just get a hold of Manny and tell him Cotto’s in camp already, he’d be there today. Manny won’t let anyone out train him. That’s how he is.”

Roach is hoping Manny gets the word somehow.

“That’s why I’m mouthing off a little bit with (reporters),” he said. “Hopefully he’ll read something. This is the real deal. Cotto is better than Oscar De La Hoya, better than Ricky Hatton. He’s the biggest, strongest guy we’ve ever fought.”

Family tragedy: The aggravation stemming from the inability to reach Pacquiao came at a bad time for Roach. His younger brother Joey, only 47, died in his sleep on Saturday.

“I brought him to Shaq’s show [Shaq Vs.],” Roach said. “He met Shaq. He let me drive his Ferrari for the weekend. He was retiring. He had bought a retirement home in Michigan with his wife. He came back [to Las Vegas] from Michigan, him and his wife, went to bed and he’s dead. He was my closest brother.”

Joey Roach was also a boxer. He had around 200 amateur fights and fought 14 times as a pro, going 11-3-3 (3 knockouts). He lost a decision to Olympic gold medalist Paul Gonzales in Gonzales’ second pro fight.

“He told me, ‘The first time I get cut in a fight I’m retiring,'” Roach said. “He got cut against Mauro Diaz (in 1986) and said, ‘That’s it. I’m not going to end up like you.'”

Roach did much better after his boxing career. At the time he died, he owned a telemarketing firm that employed more than 130 people.

“He was very successful,” Roach said. “He was a good talker. He told me, ‘If I had four flat tires, you couldn’t sell me a spare. But I could sell an Eskimo an icebox.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]