BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—Stay away from the ropes.
That’s the stern warning chief trainer Freddie Roach gave pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao yesterday during their mitts session at the Cooyesan Sports Complex here.
After watching eight tapes of Antonio Margarito’s previous fights Thursday night, Roach said it would be unsafe and unwise for Pacquiao to give the taller, bigger Mexican room to let loose three- to six-punch combinations.
What Roach wants is for Pacquiao to move in and out, or side to side, and catch the slower Margarito off-guard with jabs followed by power punches.
Pacquiao, who had some measure of success fighting on the ropes against Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey, initially wanted Margarito to corner him before springing the bait: a stunning torrent of punches.
But after Roach had shown Pacquiao fight clips of Margarito and explained the possibilities, the Filipino superstar heeded the Trainer of the Year’s advice.
The longtime partners put their ideas to work during a non-stop 14 rounds of punch-mitts yesterday, concentrating on how to fight Margarito in the middle of the ring and how to get out punching, if Pacquiao gets to the ropes.
There were plenty of other options, including using Pacquiao’s head to nudge Margarito’s chest, unleashing body blows before shifting to the head, or ducking, sidestepping and then throwing punches as the Mexican lunges.
Also simulated were different combinations that Pacquiao can throw if Margarito misses and leaves himself in no position to retaliate quickly.
At the end of the session, Roach’s face was a bit red from the light hits landed by the seven-time, seven division champion, who will gun for the vacant WBC super welterweight crown against Margarito on Nov. 13 at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Roach was satisfied with the way training camp has proceeded thus far.
“I like where we are right now,” said Roach, “Hopefully, things turn out just as well in the coming days.”
Pacquiao, who also did the usual exercises devised by conditioning expert Alex Ariza, will continue his roadwork tomorrow morning, before sparring against light middleweight Michael Medina in the afternoon.
The Sarangani representative will drive back to Manila today to honor a commitment and to celebrate the birthday of his daughter Princess.
Already acclimatized to the thinner air of the country’s summer capital, Pacquiao shelved jogging at Burnham Park in favor of running in mountainous terrain.
Ariza said the foot sprain that has caused worry among Pacquiao followers is no longer a big problem: “At least it’s not getting worse.”
“I really intend to give him the day off [today],” said Roach. “We’re right on track.”
Roach also praised Glen Tapia for giving Pacquiao a good workout during his first sparring session Thursday.
“He fights just like Margarito—cocky with a good lead right,” said Roach. “I’m glad because he tried to get Manny’s attention.” With a report from Ronnie Nathanielsz