Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn is where you will find world famous boxing trainer Hector Roca. He has been in the boxing business for 50 years, trained numerous champions, and has achieved celebrity status as a result of training Hillary Swank for her role in Million Dollar Baby. Let's welcome Hector into the doghouse.
David Tyler - Hi Hector, thanks for the interview. How long have you been involved in the boxing business?
Hector Roca - 50 years, more or less.
DT - Hector, is there any fighter today who would be a champion back when you started in boxing?
HR - I don't think so and I have seen boxing getting worse year by year. I don't know what went wrong or how to explain what's happened to boxing but the fighters today lack the skills to compete against the great fighters 50 years ago. It's very hard to compare today's fighters against fighters who were fighting in the 50's and 60's. Today's guys are not hungry like the fighter's in the old days.
DT - Let me put the question another way, "who is the most impressive fighters in your opinion today?"
HR - Today, now? There is nothing out there. Everybody's got old.
DT - None of today' current fighters? How about Floyd Mayweather Jr.?
HR - No I don't think so today. The last really good fighter was Joe Calzaghe, he had a lot of boxing skills when he was active fighter. Paul Williams reminds me a lot of the fighters that were around fifty years ago. Mayweather bothers me because he doesn't fight enough and he had this thing with Pacquiao about drugs which make me wonder if he has enough heart to be a great champion. When you fight and you are a great champion, you fight everybody no matter what, if he is taking drugs you still fight him and beat him because you have heart.
DT - Good point. Hector let's look at the upcoming Pacquiao / Clottey fight.
HR - Sure. That's not an easy fight for Pacquiao like so many think. Clottey is not easy, he has power and he is very strong. Pacquiao has to be real careful and not leave himself open for an easy punch from Clottey. Many say that Pacquiao is the best today but I'm not sure. Clottey will be very hungry where Pacquiao has made many, many, millions of dollars which may not make him so hungry anymore. Clottey is hungry and he knows he is lucky to have this opportunity to fight that will lead to fame, glory, and millions of dollars if he wins.
DT - Wow, you are the first person that I have spoken with that thinks Clottey has a chance. I see Pac taking him out in the first round very easily. Hector, if you were training Clottey, what strategy would you employ to beat the Pac?
HR - I would train Clottey to apply pressure and keep the pressure coming. Rough him up by never letting him get off more than one punch at a time. Disrupt his timing. That's what his game is about, timing. If you let him come in and throw a few punches, you will never see him. I mean applying pressure by making him come to you and you get the first and last punch in on him. Don't let him control the speed or timing of the fight.
DT - Hector, many, many, millions of fans believe that Pac will kayo Clottey, your prediction.
HR - Clottey will not get knocked out. I don't think so. I think it will be a tough for six to eight rounds. If Clottey is in great shape then I see the fight going the distance and Clottey having a good chance for victory. If Clottey is not in good shape then I think that Pacquiao wins by decision.
DT - Have you ever seen Pacquiao fight in person?
HR - Yes, I have a fighter, Agapito Sanchez, who fought him in San Franciso about 12 fights ago. The fight ended in a no decision because of a head butt and low blows stuff like that went on during the fight. Pacquiao did not impress me at the time, maybe he has gotten better but the competition has got worse so it's tough to tell.
DT - What weaknesses do you see in Pacquiao's game?
HR - He is fast but very open and easy to hit. You could see that when he fought his last fight with Cotto. Cotto hurt him the first couple of rounds because Pacquiao was wild. Cotto stopped being a strong puncher and tried to be a boxer and when he boxes he has to stop and punch. He cannot hit and move at the same time. Pacquiao saw this and when Cotto stopped to punch, Pacquiao was too fast for him. He lost control of the fight early and let Pacquiao control the pace. Cotto got tired early in the fight and did not have the skills to survive.
DT - Do you consider Pacquiao one of the greats in boxing?
HR - No, not at all. He is in what we call the right moment. He was a good featherweight and moved up and has fought easy fights, now he is fighting easy welterweight fighters and that will make him millions because television made him famous. Not a good fighter but a celebrity fighter.
DT - It would not be fair unless I ask you about Pacquiao's refusal to take a blood test to ensure that nothing illegal is being taken in his dietary supplements. Your thoughts?
HR - That's another thing that if you are not scared of anything and not doing anything wrong, then why not take the test? There was so many millions of dollars there and he does not take the test, there is something there of course. If I am clean, I take the blood test. I also believe that these two fighters are playing too many games. If they want to fight each other then they would have worked things out and fought. I do not think they will fight each other.
DT - Hector, if they did fight each other, who would win?
HR - Mayweather very easily because of his defense. He is a more accurate puncher.
DT - Let's discuss the next event in the super middleweight tournament, Abraham / Dirrell, yours thoughts?
HR - I like Abraham in this fight. He has a lot of movement, good defense, and of course he is a big hitter. He can be beat if there was a very skilled boxer in his division. From what I have seen in the super middleweights, there is no one with the skills to beat Abraham. Dirrell has not had enough experience to beat him. I teach boxers the skills of boxing not just to be a puncher. I believe in defense skills which I don't see much in any fighters today.
DT - The next big fight will be May 1st when Mayweather and Mosley throw down. How do you see that fight?
HR - These two guys are only fighting for money. Mayweather comes back to boxing because he needs money, not to be a great fighter and prove he is great but to get money. Mosley also needs money and he is older with time running out on him so he needs money. I like Shane in this fight because he is quick with his hands. Floyd has problems with fighters with quick hands. Zab Judah was beating him for four rounds then he got tired. This guy Ricky Hatton was beating him until Mayweather hit him with a lucky shot coming off the ropes. I think Shane Mosley is just too fast for Floyd.
DT - You are predicting that Mosley will beat Mayweather?
HR - Yes. No doubts. Shane wins by decision. Floyd's offense is too limited. He picks the right moments to punch but not that often. He is a good defensive fighter but Shane will be just as fast as him and counter Floyd's punches. Shane Mosley is going to be tough on him because he is a bigger guy.
DT - Hector what improvements would you like to see in boxing today?
HR - The promoters have hurt boxing. The fighters sign with the promoters and they will have to fight who the promoter says they fight. Pacquiao is an example, he will only be fighting Bob Arum fighters because Bob Arum has lots of fighters and he will not make Pacquiao take a blood test. The promoters make you think that a fighter is good, like I see fighters today who have only 16 or 17 fights and they are fighting for a championship. I remember way back that many fighters were undefeated after 25 or 26 fights and they were not even mentioned in the rankings because they had not fight anybody good. Now you can see a fighter ranked after only eight fights because they have a promoter who has lots of money and will make people believe this fighter is good because they want money. The promoters have done a lot to ruin boxing for the true fans.
DT - So the overall health of boxing is not in very good condition and going downhill?
HR - Exactly, and that's because of no competition. Boxing is in trouble when the only fight that people want to see is Pacquaio/Mayweather, and nothing else.
DT - Hector, thank you very much for this insightful interview and good luck to you with your career as a boxing trainer.
HR - David, thank you and call anytime.
Readers: Agree or disagree with Hector? Please e-mail me with your opinions at email@example.com.
Special Thanks to Dong Secuya / PhilBoxing for the the photo of Hector Rocha.
***David Tyler replies to all his e-mails and loves to hear from the readers. Comments, Questions, Suggestions, E-mail David now at:firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW: Follow DoghouseBoxing on FaceBook!