Pepper Roach Interview on Manny Pacquiao vs Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather Jr, James Toney, Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, Prediction and More! By David Tyler, DoghouseBoxing (Nov 3, 2009) Doghouse Boxing
Let’s welcome the brother of Freddie Roach into the doghouse. Pepper has spent his life in the boxing business, first as a professional fighter and now as a trainer working for his brother at the WildCard gym in Hollywood. I hope you enjoy!
David Tyler Pepper, this place is a madhouse with thousands of Manny Pacquiao fans in the parking lot. Is it this way every day?
Pepper Roach Yes Sir! Every day since Freddie and Manny got back from the Philippines. The crowds seem to grow bigger each day. Manny Pacquiao is the most popular fighter in the world so we are used to these kinds of crowds.
DT Pep, please quit kidding around and stop calling me sir.
PR OK but only if you refer to me as the good looking Roach brother in your article.
Also I’m a better trainer than Freddie.
DT You got it. How long have you been working here at WildCard?
PR Why are you asking me questions that you know the answers? Only kidding, it’s been over ten years.
DT Pep, how rude of me, how is your Mother doing after the death of your brother Joey?
PR That’s very sad because she is 74 years old and lost a good son and he was a perfect brother. Freddie says he has dealt with it but I know it bothers him. That’s just something you never get over. Please say thanks to all the people that sent flowers and cards to my mother. My Mom is tough, like I said she is 74 years old and in better shape than I am.
DT You got it! Pep, how has the gym changed over the years?
PR When we started, Freddie only had about three professional fighters. We were always open to the public and we would draw about 10 people a day. Now we are getting over a 100 people a day train at the WildCard.
DT How many world champions have trained in this gym?
PR Something like 19 or maybe more. That’s just the world champions not counting all the celebrities that have passed through these doors.
DT Pep, nine years ago you first saw Manny Pacquiao train here at the WildCard. Your thoughts.
PR When Manny Pacquiao first came here he was the 112 lb. champion of the world. He moved up to 122 lbs. and I thought he was just average. I can’t say he is the best fighter I saw because I have seen some great fighters in this gym alone. I will say that he is somewhere near the top. When you’ve had guys like Oscar De La Hoya, James Toney, Bernard Hopkins, all train here, it’s hard to pick just one guy and say he is the best.
DT Pep, you took us from 112 lbs. to 122 lbs. so don’t stop there, keep going.
PR Ok, I have seen him progress from 122 to 126 to 130 to 135 to 145. It’s just incredible that he could move up all these weight classes and still improve every step of the way. He’s unbelievable.
DT Which Pacquiao fight has caused the most tension at the gym?
PR Every one of them. When Manny first came here people were out the door all the way up Vine Street. Manny was training while the gym was full of customers working out and packed with Pacquiao fans. Manny just had no room to work. Freddie hated to close the gym but he had to for Manny to work out. Literally thousands of fans waited out in the parking lot for a chance to get Manny’s autograph. His practice sessions usually went from 1 to 3 in the afternoon. Manny would then sign autographs from 3 to 4. The next fight he would let people take pictures with him for two hours. This time Freddie has said enough is enough. No more pictures or autographs or interviews. It’s just too many distractions for Manny as he tries to focus on the upcoming fight.
DT Pep, you’ve seen Cotto before………
PR Let me tell you, Cotto was cut badly when he fought Clottey and he won a decision. Don’t get me wrong, he is one tough fighter. But when I seen Pacquiao the first day back from the Philippines, I was amazed at how strong he looked. He hasn’t lost any speed and he has more power. The other day he tapered off to 12 rounds of sparring and averaged 120 punches a round. I called a friend of mine in Czechoslovakia and said don’t bet against Manny!
DT Have you ever thought that Cotto could beat Manny?
PR Yes, for a while I was the only guy in the gym who thought Cotto had a chance. All the other trainers thought Manny would kick his butt but I said, Cotto is tough! I thought to myself that because Manny was in the Philippines he was playing around, he was shooting pool at two in the morning. No way had I thought he would be ready for Cotto. But I talked to Freddie while he was over there and he said Manny looks very good and established himself as the boss once he got over there and stopped all that nonsense.
DT What surprised you the most when he got to Los Angeles?
PR His size and strength and speed are all better than the last time I saw him working out here in the gym, he looks amazing!
DT Of all the fighters that your brother has trained who impressed you the most?
PR James Toney and Manny Pacquiao. I say that because Freddie has taken both fighters up in weight and improved their skills as they moved up in weight.
DT Pep, how do you see the Cotto fight, a knock out for Manny?
PR No, not a knockout. Here’s why, if you asked me last month I would pick Cotto. Now that I see Manny at 147 lbs. I see the fight going the distance with Manny dominating the fight.
DT Did you see Mayweather and Marquez?
PR Mayweather is a great fighter but he came in over weight and I thought that was cheating. Mayweather was the bigger fighter against a good smaller fighter. The good big fighter will beat a good small fighter every time. Mayweather did clearly dominate that fight and beat Marquez but he had better watch out for Pacquiao.
DT How can Manny beat the bigger Mayweather?
PR Speed, they both have speed but Manny is incredibly fast. Mayweather is slick and Manny will pressure him all night long. Mayweather has never fought a fighter with Manny’s skills.
DT How will that fight go?
PR A 12 round decision for Manny.
DT How much longer can Manny last at this level of competition?
PR Here’s something to consider. Fighters come and go, name a good fighter and I will tell you who beat him because fighters just fight too long. Right now Manny is at the top of his game. So five years from now some young kid is going to beat him. Something like when he beat De La Hoya, everyone said Manny is the greatest and right now he is but that can’t last forever.
DT How many more great years for Manny?
PR Well, he is 30 right now so I would say three or four more really good years.
DT If you were to give him any advice what would you say to him?
PR Are you kidding? For the money he is making fight as many as you can! He made almost 20 million for fighting Hatton just imagine how much he will make for fighting Mayweather.
DT- Pep, I know that your Father taught all his sons how to box………
PR That’s exactly right. All I remember as a child was how much my Dad loved boxing and he taught us all he knew from his days as a fighter. People say that Eddie Futch taught Freddie all he knows but that’s bullcrap. It was my Dad who taught Freddie how to fight and then how to train fighters. As a brother he has taken care of his family just like my Dad told us all to take care of family first!
DT Have you always been such a happy go lucky guy?
PR That’s right and I am very happy doing the job that I love and working for my brother who has been very good to me. How many people out there can say that they are truly happy doing their job? I feel very lucky and fortunate!
DT Pep, thanks for the interview.
PR Dave, for you anytime. Thanks for all the kind words and your concern after my brother Joey passed away.
DT God bless you Pepper Roach! I am proud to have you as a friend!
***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