FREDDIE  ROACH  IN  TOWN  TO   SUPERVISE  PACQUIAO'S  TRAINING

MANILA,  November 23, 2004 (STAR) By Joaquin Henson - Alarmed by reports that Manny Pacquiao isn’t training seriously for his Dec. 11 fight against Fahsan 3-K Battery of Thailand, Freddie Roach arrived from Los Angeles early yesterday morning and flew to Davao City a few hours later to supervise the consensus world featherweight boxing champion’s workouts at the Almendras Gym.

Pacquiao and trainer Buboy Fernandez welcomed Roach at the Manila airport then they took the 10 a.m. flight to Davao City.

Roach said Pacquiao shouldn’t take Fahsan lightly because he’s got too much to lose if the Thai scores an upset.

"A lot is riding on this fight," said Roach. "Manny’s in line to fight (Juan Manuel) Marquez in a rematch on Feb. 26. If Manny wins, he’ll be the IBF (International Boxing Federation) and WBA (World Boxing Association) champion. Right now, he doesn’t have a belt. The recognition will only come after he beats Marquez. Manny can become the greatest Filipino fighter who ever lived. It’s all up to him. If his head’s in place, he’s unbeatable."

Roach abandoned plans of working flyweight prospect Brian Viloria’s corner in a Dec. 4 fight to fly here on the first available flight after he learned of Pacquiao’s distractions. He denied earlier reports that Viloria’s fight was postponed.

A few days ago, Pacquiao broke training camp in Davao to shoot a reality boxing TV show in Subic with Robin Padilla.

"Too many distractions are not good for him," said Roach.

"He’s got to keep his mind on boxing, nothing else. He’s got to stay away from home. He’s got to stay focused. The Marquez fight is the biggest fight of his life. He can’t afford to blow the chance of beating Marquez."

Although the rematch is still over three months away, Marquez has reportedly started training. The Mexican is aware that if he can’t match Pacquiao’s skills and punching power, his only hope is to outwork the Filipino by being in better physical condition.

Last May, Pacquiao decked Marquez thrice in the first round but couldn’t finish off the durable Mexican. Marquez held on to salvage a split 12-round draw, retaining his titles in the process. Pacquiao should’ve won by a split decision but judge Burt Clements erred in scoring the first round 10-7 instead of 10-6 for the Filipino. The error could not be corrected after the fact, under world championship rules.

Roach said he doesn’t intend to train Pacquiao in Davao too long. He’s expected to fly back to Manila on Thursday as Pacquiao is scheduled to meet with his financial backers the next day.

Pacquiao flew to Los Angeles last September to train in Roach’s Wild Card gym expecting to face Marco Antonio Barrera in a November rematch. But when no fight materialized, Pacquiao returned home after a month. Barrera signed to face Erik Morales instead, avoiding the Filipino who knocked him out last year.

With the cable network HBO (Home Box Office) unable to arrange a fight for Pacquiao this year, New Jersey promoter Murad Muhammad and business manager Rod Nazario negotiated the bout against Fahsan in the Fort at the Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, to keep him busy. They finalized the fight with the support of Smart, Solar Sports and Taguig Mayor Freddie Tinga.

At the press conference announcing the Dec. 11 fight, Pacquiao claimed he weighed 130 pounds or four over the featherweight limit. But a camp insider confided he was at least 140.

Yesterday, Fernandez admitted Pacquiao tipped the scales at 134 after a week of workouts and sparring with Philippine lightweight champion Fernando Montilla, superlightweight Chris Saluday and lightweight Arnel Porras.

Roach said he’s wary of Fahsan. "The guy’s not coming over to lose," he noted. "He knows if he beats Manny, he’ll be the next Asian superstar. He’s got everything to gain and nothing to lose. That’s what makes him a dangerous opponent. This guy is fighting the most recognized featherweight in the world today so he’s coming to win."

Roach said Pacquiao must take care of his body and avoid staying up late at night playing pool or filming commercials or making TV appearances.

"I’m going to sit him down and get his head in the right place," said Roach who has trained over 10 world champions including Mike Tyson. "He has a very bright future in front of him but the thing is, he’s got to stay disciplined. He needs to get his mind on this fight."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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