Boxing idol and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao trains with Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles as he prepares for his upcoming boxing match with Antonio Margarito. AP]

LOS ANGELES, OCTOBER 29, 2010 (STAR) By AP - When Manny Pacquiao finally made his way past the autograph hounds and the process server to climb the rickety staircase to the Wild Card Gym, he was met b  dozens of fans, fellow fighters, reporters and even a television star, all wanting a moment before his workout.

Hollywood is jampacked with distractions for the world’s top pound-for-pound boxer – and the man they call Pacman isn’t even a congressman in this country.

Trainer Freddie Roach says Pacquiao is having the worst training camp of his career heading into his Nov. 13 meeting with Antonio Margarito in Texas.

In the five months since he won a congressional seat in his native Philippines, boxing has lost some of its urgency for Pacquiao. Roach can even cite physical evidence their careers have been hurt by politics.

“He has a foot problem, and that’s because he wears dress shoes too much,” Roach said, referring to the nagging left heel injury that has slowed Pacquiao’s running.

Although Roach thinks he’ll have no problem putting together a speed-based game plan to beat the bigger Margarito, he’s worried about Pacquiao’s ability to execute it. The fighter who flawlessly teamed with boxing’s most respected trainer to forge a 12-fight winning streak just doesn’t have the same focus, or even the same drive.

“At two in the morning, I’m walking around Baguio pulling my hair out, saying, ‘What do I have to do?”’ Roach said, referring to the Filipino city where they trained before returning to Los Angeles last weekend.

“I know his mind is off the fight. I know his mind is somewhere else, and that’s because of politics. If there are no more challenges out there after this fight, this could be it. If Floyd (Mayweather Jr.) doesn’t come to the table, I don’t know what’s going to challenge him. He loves his other job, and he might be done with this one.”

Roach hopes the move stateside will help, although the hubbub Wednesday at the open workout suggested otherwise.

After Pacquiao apparently was served with papers in an envelope on the way into the gym, he quickly got his hands wrapped before walking slowly around the ring in the Wild Card’s stifling heat, patiently answering questions from dozens of reporters. Perhaps after greeting actor Jeremy Piven, Pacquiao would be ready to train.

“I’ve been under pressure and tough conditions before,” Pacquiao said. “The training is going good, but the problem is aside from training, there’s lots of stuff to do. ... I’m thinking about (retirement), but I can still fight. I think I’ll do a few more.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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