It is exceedingly difficult and rare for an almost 34-year-old athlete to manage to maintain the focus and intensity they had when they started their career. Pacquiao wants to do that on Dec. 8, vs Marquez. (Chris Farina-Top Rank)
Manny Pacquiao, Freddie Roach and promoter Bob Arum took part in a conference call to hype the Dec. 8 showdown between Pacquiao and his rival for the ages Juan Manuel Marquez.
Roach was asked how camp has been and what the plan will be. Roach said he expects a tough fight from the counterpuncher JMM. Manny is "looking great in training" and his sparring is the best he's seen in awhile, the trainer said. The trainer said Manny will fight at a faster pace, like he did in the first fight, in 2004, and not let Marquez dictate the pace.
Pacquiao was asked if he's still gunning for a KO. He said he wants to make the fight as easy as possible.
Is Manny concerned with Marquez' strength? "I'm not worried about his strength," Manny said. Is Freddie concerned about Marquez' strength? "I don't think muscle gives you a better chin," Freddie said, and he thinks Marquez is slower now, with extra muscle, and they will take advantage of that.
Is he friendly with Marquez at this point? No, Pacquiao said, they just do their job in the ring. He then followed up and said they are friendly. They did a singing duet on Mexican TV, he recalled.
The promoter said interest has been high, with about a thousand seats left, and the gate already at almost $11 million. Arum said he thinks both men want to win more conclusively, and we will get the best fight yet. That might hurt Marquez, because he likes to be the patient counterpuncher. And could we see a fifth? "There's always a possibility," Arum said. He noted Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake Lamotta met six times. Manny said he has a hard time believing they're fighting for a fourth time. But he is pumped to meet Marquez, because he thinks fans are psyched.
Roach said he feels no extra pressure because his guys haven't been winning lately. Does Manny feel extra urgency to win for Freddie? No, he answered. He doesn't feel like he has to "clear his name" from the last fight, against Tim Bradley.
Pacquiao was asked about the Amir Khan departure from Roach, and he offered a no comment, after Roach's line went dead. Roach has denied that Parkinson's is not an issue, as Khan implied. Freddie didn't return to the call.
Pacquiao said he will fight through 2014, Mayweather fight or no. He says there is a chance another fight with Miguel Cotto. He thinks Cotto will beat Austin Trout on Dec. 1.
Can Pacquiao bring the "old" aggression ? He said he will look to fight with more intensity, more action in the ring. Can he fight at the same pace as in their first fight? "Yes, yes," he replied. Is there pressure to get back to looking like peak Manny? No extra pressure, he said. (Note: This topic is pertinent to what we talked about earlier in the week. Manny is 33, he has been to the top of the mountain, multiple times. It would be hard to summon the urgency he felt when he was still on the ascent. Maybe impossible, in fact. We shall see on Dec. 8.)
Will there be tweaks in training or does he need to get more geared up mentally? He said he always trains hard, but he will focus on the volume and there will be some unnamed tweaks to strategy to achieve a clearer victory. He is throwing more combos, and aiming for more movement in camp. He said in previous JMM fights he hasn't finished as strongly as he might like.
Pacman said he doesn't care who the judges are, or where they are from. "That's not my job, my job is to train hard," he said.
The rhythm of the call was choppy, and the topics were, to be expected, somewhat to formula. They've have done this dance three times, and much of the ground pertaining to the men has been exhausted. Here's hoping that is no indication of how the fight will turn out Dec. 8.