And what if a Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight doesn’t get made for May? What then? Who does The Congressman select for his next violent waltz?
I posed that query to Freddie Roach, in town for a Friday night fight with his welterweight, Chris Van Heerden, who scraps on the first Roc nation card at MSG Theatre, noting up front that there doesn’t seem to be much fan appetite for Pacquiao vs. Jesse Vargas match, as has been floated as a trial balloon.
Roach showed not half an ounce of enthusiasm for a Pacquiao-Vargas fight, but he did rule out one possible who he’d stated he’d love to see Pacman rumble with: Danny Garcia. The Philly based boxer, he said, isn’t in contention for a Pacman fight, in Roach’s view, because Roach reached out to an Al Haymon source, and was told that Al wouldn’t be inclined to allow a Pacquiao-Garcia scrap. “I hear I can’t get Danny Garcia,” said Roach. So…who then?
Amir Khan is a superb fallback plan, Roach told me. Khan in Dubai is something Roach has heard, he told me.
Me, I like that match, I like the backstories, I like how Khan is fighting, I like how his chin is holding up, though I do miss the fear-factor that was present when he was fighting a few years ago, and his chin was still iffy. Roach seems to be on board in the same way…
We talked about Khan’s new look, which has come after working for a long spell with Virgil Hunter. To good effect, no? Yes, Roach said, the pairup with Virgil suits Amir. No doubt, he said, and he doesn’t feel dissed that Khan is resurgent with Hunter tutoring him, after a few years with Roach. “I didn’t want Khan standing in the pocket that long,” Roach explained to me. “I wanted him out because he has very good speed. But we couldn’t get him to do that all the time. So he’d get knocked out. See, Virgil has him throwing the combination, and then grabbing a lot. It works for Khan, but it makes for a little bit more boring fight. For him, it’s not a bad move for him, though.”
Roach said last fight Khan wasn’t such a Grabby Cathy, and he’s a super athlete..but in about twenty or so sparring sessions at Wild Card, Freddie said, Pacman had Khan to the mat twice. “Flash knockdowns, he got right up and finished the round, that happens…I’m not saying that makes Manny better, but I think Manny is the smarter of the two fighters.”
So, it’s not a 50-50 fight to you, is it?
“Nah,” Roach said. “Seventy thirty for Manny.”
And, if you hadn’t worked with Amir before and he didn’t sort of bust on you on his way out the door, what might it be?
“It might be fifty fifty,” said Roach, grinning widely, bless his humble soul.
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