Freddie Roach on Manny Pacquiao, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and More - Wild Card Boxing Club Update
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Aug 11, 2010) Special to Doghouse Boxing
I spent some time on Tuesday afternoon at the Wild Card Boxing Club, where I interviewed lightweight hopeful Mercito Gesta and his trainer/manager Vincent Parra. But as I always do, I had a few words with Freddie Roach, who is still awaiting the arrival of one Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who, in one month, faces the tough Pawel Wolak in Mexico.

Yes, as Yogi Berra once famously uttered, “This is déjà vu, all over again.”

"We are going through the same thing," said Roach, laughing at the thought. "Again, once he's here, he's fine. Bob [Arum] is upset. He was here for a moment but then he had to go back over for a press conference. He's having trouble getting back over. But again, I told him we need him back in the gym to practice and perfect what we've been working on because we're not quite there yet. We did OK in the last fight [versus John Duddy] but we can do better."

If he should beat Walek on September 11th, there could be a fight against Miguel Cotto on December 4th. But not having a full camp may not give Roach the evaluation time he desires.

"I want to see what I can do with him in an eight-week camp," he said. "How perfect we can be. We're not going to get everything done, of course; he's human. But the thing is, he can make it a lot easier on himself if he's here already."

Soon after that assignment, he'll be on his way to work his best known client, Manny Pacquiao.

"The 11th is the Chavez fight; I come back here on the 12th; the plans are for me to leave for the Philippines on the 13th," said Roach, who wants to return to some familiar haunts. "I'm pushing for Baguio but because of Congress, he might have to be in Manila. So we're working that out right now. Manny just built a brand new gym in Manila."

Does it come with bleachers for all the expected visitors that are sure to arrive?

"I'm going to shut the doors; I have to," insisted Roach. "This is a big fight, possibly at a new weight division."

Yeah, the junior-junior middleweight division of 150 pounds.

"I still want this fight at '47," said Roach. "But I don't think I'm going to get quite there. They're talking about catchweights, I'm against catchweight fights. Either do it or don't."

Geez, I never knew Freddie was such a traditionalist. But hasn't he been involved in quite a few of these with his work with Pacquiao and Bernard Hopkins a few years ago?

"Well, Pacquiao's only had one, though. I mean, they're calling him the 'Catchweight King' but he had [only] one. So it's a little unfair," said Roach, laughing loudly. But a 150-pound weight limit for the vacant WBC junior middleweight belt is something he opposes. "I mean, if you're going to fight for a title, fight for the whole one."

Also, Roach gets asked all the time, “So how's Manny?” He wants to clarify that he talks to the Congressman about as much as you or I when they are not in training camp. The respected trainer admits, "I don't talk to him ever. I'll get a BBM (Blackberry message) message from him sometimes and I'll say, 'Hi' back. 'How's congress?' I'm not good at texting and stuff so my answers are very short back to him. But the thing is, we don't communicate [all that much]. When we see each other is when we speak."

Leading up to their fights, whatever dialogue they engage in will focus mainly on the upcoming camp and discussions of where they will train and prospective sparring partners. And now, with his political duties, they speak even less.

"I haven't spoken to him since he left America. The last time I saw him was at the Hall of Fame dinner," which took place in early June in New York. "I said, 'Congratulations, Manny.' He was so swamped that night, I didn't even get too much of a conversation that night. But we were happy to see each other. We have no problem with each other. We understand [that] he does his thing; I do my things.

"He knows I'm working; I know he's working. So it's not a problem."

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