“He’s going to be a seven-time world champion.”
Thus was the words uttered by Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach in answer to questions by sportswriters during an international press conference held Wednesday (Thursday Manila time) in regards to Manny Pacquiao’s coming fight against Puerto Rican welterweight champion Miguel Cotto.
“He (Pacquiao) is still learning and very hungry to improve. “I think I have the greatest fighter in the world today and I think we’ll find (that) out again with Miguel Coto,” he told his international audience.
Despite reports to the contrary, especially coming from the foreign media, Roach, again, defended the choice the Philippines (Baguio City) to set up Pacquiao’s training camp in the first month of his preparations.
“That was the best first four weeks we’ve ever had,” the three-time ‘Trainer of the Year’ awardee asserted.
Asked what strategy he will use against Cotto in the fight set November 14 in Las Vegas, Roach said there’s nothing new, except to add that he had studied all of the tapes on Coto’s fights.
“He's never fought a guy like Manny Pacquiao, with his speed. I think that's where he's going to have trouble is with the speed,” he emphasized.
Echoing what he said in previous interviews with Filipino sportswriters during last week’s SCOOP Sa Kamayan weekly session while still in Manila, Roach said he wants Pacquiao to start as quickly as possible and avoid staying at the ropes.
The plan, he said, to keep the fight in the middle of the ring where his ward can use his speed and movement to confuse Cotto who has the reputation to be a plodder. To stay off the ropes would be to our advantage, I feel.”
Saying he had observed Coto’s style of fighting, Roach said, that for a change, “we will force him to counter punch and not come at us,” a plan, he explained will catch Cotto by surprise since he has been characteristically a stalker who presses the action, comes forward, and looks to land damaging shots in an effort to take his opponent out.
Roach reiterated his respect on Cotto’s left hook, which he thinks is the punch they will be watching and will try to concentrate in the next three weeks of training.
“Miguel has a pretty good left hook,” said Roach. “But that doesn't win fights, boxing ability wins fights.”
Roach believes Pacquiao is the quicker, faster fighter who possesses the more refined boxing skills which will the world junior-welterweight kingpin to victory, possibly by knockout.
“We’re working the mitts with Manny and at this weight he is punching so much harder than he ever has,” said Roach who had a touch of weariness in his voice. “He’s punching fast and hard and I just think Miguel Cotto’s defense isn’t good enough - and people that Manny hits, he knocks out.”
Welterweight contender Urbano Antillon and former two-time world lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo had been relieved in favor of Rashad Holloway and Ray Beltran and along with middleweight prospect Shawn Porter, Roach said Pacquiao is getting well in sparring.
“He was getting a little too used to the sparring partners we had,” Roach said. “We got some fresh guys in there to liven it up a little bit and keep Manny more focused.”