Chris Farina, Top Rank
Thursday, March 11, 2010 | 4:30 p.m.
GRAPEVINE, Texas — According to Freddie Roach, in no way is his fighter, Manny Pacquiao, taking Saturday's welterweight fight with Joshua Clottey at Dallas Cowboys Stadium lightly.
The trainer himself however, isn't giving Clottey much of a shot.
Roach, who is famous for accurately predicting fights, said he sees one of two scenarios playing out in the first boxing match ever at the newly built $1.2 billion stadium in Arlington, Texas — and neither of them are good for Pacquiao's opponent.
"He'll either try to come out and impose his size or he'll go to the ropes and try to get Manny to wear himself out," Roach said. "That won't happen, because Manny won't get tired. If he does come forward, he's going to come in straight lines and we'll use lateral movement.
"It's not that hard of a game plan. It's pretty simple actually."
So confident is Pacquiao's trainer, he didn't mind sharing a bit of the strategy the Filipino champion is planning to use in the ring this weekend.
Clottey (35-3, 20 KO) has never been stopped in his professional career, a streak Roach believes will end against Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 KO).
"The body attack is very essential in this fight because he doesn't protect his body that well," Roach said. "He's got a great chin, but I think we can break him down with body shots. I think we can stop him.
"He doesn't come out and chase punches and he doesn't block punches; he just puts up earmuffs. If you can throw the hook a little deeper on the ear and get him to block that, the chin is open. That's Manny's favorite punch. That's his bread and butter."
While Roach is obviously comfortable in sharing his confidence in what will happen Saturday, he's mindful to make sure his fighter is staying humble.
Looking back on the biggest upsets in boxing history, Roach said the losers all have one thing in common.
"They got lazy. They got satisfied," Roach said.. "But I haven't seen that in Pacquiao yet. I'm still waiting for the day he comes in the gym and doesn't have that work ethic. He works as hard today as he did the day he first came in.
"He knows (Clottey) is a dangerous guy and he respects him."
As Saturday's fight draws closer, there have been reports from various media outlets that Pacquiao's choice to run for Congress in the Philippines this spring and an inability to come to terms for a super-fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. may turn this into the last fight of his career.
After speaking with parties involved however, it appears those reports are based mostly on statements only by Roach and that the chances of Pacquiao retiring after this weekend are slim.
In fact, Pacquiao's chances of even winning the election into Congress in May seem to be anything but a sure thing, as his opponent comes from a family with a deep political background.
"I talk to Manny, and he's winning by a landslide," said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum. "Then I talk to (Filipino newscaster) Dyan Castillejo and she thinks it's fifty-fifty. He's running against a son of a ruling, warlord kind of family.
"He has an uphill battle, but he seems confident. I hope he wins, but I have no idea."
Whether Pacquiao's political dreams come to fruition or not, Roach remains set in the hope his fighter will take the ring no more than twice before hanging up his gloves.
Roach, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease likely caused by taking too many punches during his own fighting career, believes the only test left for Pacquiao would be Mayweather sometime in 2010.
Win or lose to Mayweather, Roach says, Pacquiao should retire.
"That's Freddie. I don't know why Freddie is saying that," said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum. "Freddie is the most compensated trainer in the world and he keeps talking about retirement. Manny doesn't talk about it."
Roach says he also wants Pacquiao to have the luxury of retiring on top of the sport, rather than after a loss under the pressures of a coach as he did.
"It's really hard to tell somebody to quit," said Roach, who unsuccessfully urged James Toney and Bernard Hopkins toward retirement. "I remember when my coach told me to quit it made me cry. I thought, 'This is all I've done my whole life.' I was 26.
"We've talked about it a little bit. I'd like to see Manny fight two more fights and quit. This fight and Mayweather and be done with it. There are no more challenges out there. "
And for the man referred to by Pacquiao himself as 'master,' defeating Mayweather and then having the discipline to walk away on top may be the only challenges left.
Because even though he wants his fighter to take Clottey seriously, it's obvious the Ghanaian fighter doesn't scare Roach.
"I don't think (a win over Clottey) would take (Pacquiao) to the next level," Roach said. "We all know he's a good fighter, but the general public doesn't know much about Clottey and they know he lost to Cotto.
"It's a must-win situation, but I don't think it's a tougher fight than Cotto. Cotto was a versatile guy. This guy does the same thing over and over again."