JANUARY 8, 2009
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - Freddie Roach drew his old, reliable gun early by predicting that Manny Pacquiao will stop Ricky Hatton in the later rounds of their scheduled match on May 2 in Las Vegas.

Speaking from his Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, the most successful boxing trainer these days said Pacquiao, the current pound-for-pound champion, should win via stoppage.

“Ricky is a tough guy and he’s durable but I think we will get him in the later rounds,” said Roach over the phone as he was wrapping up his day’s work at his gym at around 8 p.m. (LA time).

Is he predicting a stoppage in the ninth round?

“Ninth round? Yeah. That’s my favorite number,” he said with confidence.

Roach also predicted that Pacquiao would stop David Diaz in nine rounds last June, and said the same when his fighter faced Oscar dela Hoya last month.

On both occasions he was right, with the Filipino multi-millionaire stopping Diaz in the ninth round to win the WBC lightweight crown. Roach, however, fell a round short against Dela Hoya.

The Golden Boy of boxing, supposedly the bigger fighter, failed to answer the bell for the ninth round where Pacquiao said he would have gone for kill.

Hatton, according to Roach, will suffer the same fate when he puts his International Boxing Organization light-welterweight crown (140 pounds) against the hard-hitting Pacquiao.

“Yes, I think we’ll get Ricky in the later rounds,” Roach repeated.

The former boxer who seems all set to receive his third Trainer of the Year award said he talked to Pacquiao earlier in the day, and they agreed to start training for the Hatton fight in March.

“The first day of March will be our first day at the gym. We talked about it earlier, and I think eight weeks will be good for us,” said Roach of Pacquiao who’s still in Los Angeles.

Pacquiao’s wife Jinkee gave birth to a baby girl, to be named Queen Elizabeth, a day before New Year’s Eve, and the couple, with their three other children, should be back in Manila on Monday.

The press tour for the Pacquiao-Hatton fight will take both fighters to London and key cities in the US. Roach said by this time, around February, Pacquiao should be out running.

“He should be out running daily by February so we won’t have to start from scratch once we get to the gym,” said Roach, adding that 140 pounds is a good weight for Pacquiao.

“No problem,” he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved