Sunday, April 02, 2023  |


Notebook: Pacquiao by early knockout?

Fighters Network

Manny Pacquiao and members of his camp — as well as some Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders — make their way to the final news conference before Pacquiao faces Antonio Margarito on Saturday at Cowboys Stadium. Photo / Chris Farina-Top Rank

ARLINGTON, Texas – Freddie Roach has said he expects Manny Pacquiao to knock out Antonio Margarito around the eighth round, give or take, on Saturday at Cowboys stadium. That’s about as specific as he gets.

Speaking more generally, the trainer also has said he expects the knockout to come anywhere between Rounds 1 and 8.

Round 1? Observers generally agree that Margarito will survive until the later rounds even if Pacquiao dominates him because of his famously solid chin. Shane Mosley became the first to stop the sturdy Mexican, in the ninth round, by gradually breaking him down.

Roach believes the fight could resemble Pacquiao’s victory over Ricky Hatton – KO 2 – more than the Mosley-Margarito fight.

“I think we can hurt him right away,” he said at Wednesday’s final news conference, held at Cowboys Stadium. “Manny is punching really, really hard. He’s really grown into the weight. He knows how to use his body weight now. He punches the s–t out of me [on the mitts and body pads].

“He hit me in the chest the other day and I thought he stopped my heart, for Christ’s sake.”

Pacquiao had stopped four consecutive opponents – David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Hatton and Miguel Cotto – before he went the distance with Joshua Clottey, who was more interested in surviving than fighting when they met in March at Cowboys Stadium.

Roach is convinced this will be knockout – whatever the round.

“We’ll knock this guy out somewhere between [Rounds] 1 and 8,” he said. “I’m confident he won’t last. The punishment he’ll take will be enormous. Manny’s volume punches ÔǪ he’s not going to be able to handle it. He will quit.”

Margarito struggling?: Roach and others in the Pacquiao camp believe that Margarito has not handled his weight well leading up to the fight, which could work in Pacquiao’s favor.

Fighters normally train at a weight heavier than the official limit and then taper down as the fight approaches. They dry out the day of the weigh-in, one day before the fight, and then replenish in the final 24 hours.

De La Hoya also was on weight well before the fight and had limited energy once he was face to face with Pacquiao.

“They said he’s been on weight [150 pounds] for a week,” Roach said. “If that’s true, it’s foolish. Oscar tried that too. ÔǪ Now he’ll suffer the whole week. He’ll deplete his body. He’s not losing fat now, he’s losing muscle. ÔǪ.

“I know he took a couple of days off last week and isn’t training this week. They might be worried he overdid it. Now he’s just running on a treadmill with plastics on to make weight.”

How does he know that?

“I know where he’s running,” he said. “He’s not hard to find. We’re in the same hotel.”

Margarito said at the news conference that he had a terrific training camp — “one of the best of my career” — and feels great. And his trainer, Robert Garcia, has said more than once that his fighter will have no problems making weight.

Meanwhile, Pacquiao tried packing on some weight early in training but decided against it because of how he felt. He said he got up to 150 pounds before heading back in the other direction.

“I looked terrible, and I couldn’t move. My speed was gone,” he said.

Pacquiao weighs around 148 pounds, about what he expects to weigh at the official weigh-in Friday.

Pacquiao ready?: Roach has said repeatedly that he had concerns about Pacquiao’s training in the Philippines, where he must deal with many distractions. That includes his work as a new congressman.

So where does Pacquiao stand now, a few days before the fight?

“It was just a mental issue,” Roach said of Pacquiao’s problems in his native country. “They were never physical. He always works hard. Mentally, it just took a while to get him there. While he was in the Philippines, congress was on his mind. We had a talk on the plane [the U.S.]. He promised me he’d get back to what he does best. Congress hasn’t come up since we hit America.

“His mind is completely on the fight. He’s 100 percent ready. We have no excuses.”

Wrap watch: Roach has said all along that he will be the one to watch Margarito get his hands wrapped to be certain no one slips anything illegal into the fighter’s gloves, which happened before he fought Mosley and he lost his license as a result.

Roach also went a step further.

“I asked the [Texas] commission if I can have a person from my camp in their training room from start to finish,” he said. “And they can do the same to me. I don’t trust those guys. Afterwards, after I leave, they might try to wet them or do anything they can. They’ve done it before.

“He’s a cheater. And once a cheater ÔǪ a leopard doesn’t change its spots.”

Javier Capeillo, Margarito's former trainer, said he inadvertently placed illegal pads in his hand wraps. Robert Garcia, his current trainer, wasn't working with at the time.

Not going anywhere: Roach suggested that this might be Pacquiao’s last fight for lack of a challenge beyond Margarito.

The only fight that makes sense for Pacquiao, he said, is Floyd Mayweather Jr. If that doesn’t happen, then what’s the point?

“This could be it,” he said. “Where else does he have to go? Paul Williams? At 160 pounds? I’d be satisfied if this was his last fight. Look impressive, go out and look the way you’re supposed to. I’d be happy with titles in eight weight classes.”

One person doesn’t think this is his last fight, though: Pacquiao himself.

“No, this is not my last fight,” he said.

Even if Mayweather doesn’t fight you? “Yes,” he said.

How many more fights? Two, three? “Maybe three fights.”

Pacquiao different from Mosley: Some believe this fight will go a lot like the Mosley-Margarito fight, in which Margarito took a beating before he was stopped in the ninth round.

The result probably will be similar, Roach said, but the action itself will be different.

“Mosley went in close, inside the pocket,” Roach said. “He knows Margarito can’t fight in short range. He needs room to punch. We’ll be on the other end, distance. I have worked some with Manny on going into the pocket and backing him up. So Mosley gave us food for thought.

“Shane and Manny aren’t similar fighters, though. Manny will go outside. We like to throw combinations and use lateral movement.”

Power puncher? Margarito (38-6, 27 knockouts) has stopped a lot of opponents, including several elite fighters.

No one believes he has tremendous one-punch knockout power but he can cause serious damage. Just ask Miguel Cotto, who took a terrible beating against Margarito.

Roach isn’t convinced the Mexican is a particularly hard puncher, though.

“I’ve had five sparring partners in camp who have sparred with [Margarito],” Roach said. “Two say he can punch hard. He broke one guy’s [Rashad Holloway] eye socket with one punch. I think he was loaded [in his gloves] in training. The other three guys, [including] Victor Ortiz and Rudy Zavala, say he punches like a girl. That’s a quote.”

Roach has said openly that he believes Margarito had something illegal in his gloves when fought Cotto and in his second fight with Kermit Cintron.