LOS ANGELES-At least once a week I try to drive into the Los Angeles area to see what’s going in the various gyms.
On Thursday there was a press conference for a heavyweight tournament near Hollywood at noon, so I drove early to the Wild Card Boxing gym to chat with master trainer Freddie Roach.
All the big hoopla the past two weeks has focused on newly crowned lightweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao possibly fighting junior middleweight Oscar De La Hoya in the East L.A. fighter’s goodbye bout. But earlier this week it was revealed that the Filipino superstar did not accept the final offer.
Goodbye super bout.
Now Pacquiao’s fans all think it’s a great fight that should be made. But those same fans think Pac Man could beat Mike Tyson in his prime.
I’m not one of them.
Pacquiao undoubtedly is the best fighter pound for pound and most exciting when you come right down to it, but fighting a man who has fought at middleweight just didn’t make sense for De La Hoya, no matter how you argued it.
So De La Hoya beats Pacquiao, so what? He’s the bigger guy.
When a fighter like De La Hoya - who has met most of the best fighters in his generation – is trying to say goodbye to the sport, it makes better sense to meet a boxer with a good chance of beating him.
Pacquiao is too small.
Remember a guy named Henry Armstrong?
Armstrong was one of the greatest fighters of all time. Maybe even greater than Sugar Ray Robinson. At one time he held the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight titles at the same time! Plus, he had more than 100 knockouts in his career.
And what happened to Armstrong?
Well, he moved up and challenged the middleweight champion named Ceferino Garcia, a Filipino by the way, and fought to a draw. But after that fight, Armstrong was never the same. Perhaps after enduring punches from a much bigger and stronger man. That can take a toll too. Armstrong lost three of five fights later that year. I think that could happen to Pacquiao too. And why chance it?
Now Freddie Roach, who I consider among the three best trainers today, and already a hall of fame inductee, told me he firmly believes his charge can beat De La Hoya.
Aside from being a great trainer, what most people fail to recognize, is that Roach is one of the smartest in the sport and a great businessman as well. He’s a Pisces too, for those who believe in astrological signs. That means he’s very intuitive.
I’m a Pisces too and my intuition tells me it’s not a favorable match up for Pac Man.
Freddie and I stood around the counter debating back and forth with a few others chiming in their opinions too. It was great stuff.
“Manny would knock out Oscar,” says Roach. “He’s just too fast for Oscar. He’d be moving in and out, back and forth.”
This is very true. Pacquiao has very quick feet and very quick hands and brings serious power for his size.
I acknowledged that. But said I: “Oscar has a very quick jab and every time Manny gets close all Oscar has to do is stick that jab out. It doesn’t matter how quick a guy is, he won’t be quicker than that jab.”
Roach countered with the Forbes fight.
“Look how beat up Oscar got against Forbes,” he said.
This was true.
“But that happened in the first five rounds. In the second half Oscar was battering Forbes with that jab. He nearly dropped him a few times toward the end with a jab,” said I.
That seemed to sink in a bit.
Roach said that De La Hoya can’t stay with Pacquiao, stamina wise. That’s a great point. He feels De La Hoya has a mental block with his own stamina.
“I’ve never seen a fighter as tense as Oscar before a fight,” said Roach, who trained De La Hoya for his fight with Floyd Mayweather last year that he lost by split-decision. “And you can forget about Oscar’s right hand. He might as well put that in his pocket.”
I couldn’t argue that Oscar’s right hand is potent, at least not against welterweights and middleweights, but Pacquiao is at most a lightweight.
“Pacquiao could run into a right hand and Oscar is still a bigger guy,” I said.
Roach shook his head.
“You can forget about Oscar’s right hand,” said Roach who knows first-hand working the mitts with De La Hoya last year.
Roach believes that either Ricky Hatton or Sergio Mora could be De La Hoya’s next opponent pending their next fights. He also heard that Sugar Shane Mosley’s name has been mentioned too.
I don’t think Mosley is a good idea. If De La Hoya beats Mosley people will say he didn’t want to beat the boss. They’re business partners. It doesn’t look ethical.
Now what about Pacquiao?
Humberto Soto is next for Pacquiao in November.
Roach doesn’t think it’s worth the risk. He likes waiting to see what happens when Joan Guzman meets Nate Campbell or Juan Manuel Marquez meets Joel Casamayor. The winners of those bouts would make for exciting viewing.
I definitely agree with that.
Back to the De La Hoya fight.
Roach firmly believes that Pacquiao can knock out De La Hoya. Now, I’m thinking, Freddie knows that Oscar can take a punch to the chin. He’s been tagged by Bernard Hopkins, Felix Trinidad, Ike Quartey and Fernando Vargas on that square-like chin of his. But he’s never been knocked out with a shot upstairs.
Roach won’t come out and say it, but he would probably have Pac Man set De La Hoya up for a body attack. That’s the East L.A fighter’s Achilles Heel as Hopkins proved.
That Freddie, he’s a wily trainer.
Police Nab Rhoshii Well’s Suspected Assassin
Arizona state troopers arrested a man named Roger Randolph, 26, a Las Vegas resident suspected of shooting welterweight contender and former U.S. Olympian Rhoshii Wells, 31, several days ago.
Witnesses told Las Vegas Police that Randolph had argued with Wells early Monday morning and had threatened to return. Later on Monday night, Wells was shot twice in the torso.
“It’s a great, great loss,” said Leroy Brooks, a former teammate of Wells during their amateur and pro career. “Rhoshii was the kind of guy who was hard to make mad. It took a lot to get him mad.”
Brooks said Wells' father Frederick Wells called him earlier in the month to say his son was back in the gym.
“I’m not just saying this, but Roshii Wells was a really good guy,” said Brooks. “If you needed something he would give whenever he could.”
Arizona state troopers arrested Randolph who was apparently driving toward Phoenix, Arizona.
Damian “Bolo” Wills (23-2-1, 17 KOs) has been added to the $1.5 million eight-man heavyweight tournament that takes place on Saturday Aug. 29 in Des Moines, Iowa said organizers on Thursday in a press conference in Los Angeles.
The entire tournament is a round-robin variety that takes place in one day. The eventual finalists will have fought 15 rounds or less against three opponents.
“I’m glad they considered me for this tournament,” said Wills who knocked out Greg McGhee a week ago in Mississippi. “I’m in the company of a lot of good guys.”
The tournament also added Oleg Platov (26-1, 22 KOs) from Ukraine who has a victory over Henry Akinwande and fought to a no-decision with Britain’s Danny Williams last December.
“I’m getting adapted to this country,” said Platov, who attended the press conference at Pound for Pound Gym.
Others in the tournament are Javier “Sexican-Mexican” Mora (21-4-1, 17 KOs), Fres Oquendo (29-4, 18 KOs), Duncan Dokiwari (25-3, 23 KOs), Chris Koval (24-4, 18 KOs), Devin Vargas (16-0, 7 KOs), and Cisse Salif (23-10-2, 21 KOs).
The fights can be seen on www.xbclive.com for $19.95