I chatted with trainer Freddie Roach (seen with Pacquiao in above Chris Farina-Top Rank photo) the other day, to get his take on the Pacquiao-Rios matchup, and assess how important he thinks the fight is. Portions of the interview were featured on ESPN.com, and the full story can be found here. Here is an excerpt.
-So, Freddie, is this a must-win for Manny?
Yeah, if he loses I will tell him to retire.
What if he loses in a great fight?
If you lose three in a row it's your time. He's up there in age, I've got to keep a close eye on him. It's part of my job to protect him. I will do the right thing, I don't want him to be a stepping-stone.
-And if Manny ever started accepting fights in which he was booked as the figurative stepping-stone?
Would I step down if he is the stepping-stone, I'd have to, yes. I will never go into a fight I don't think we win.
-Is Rios the right foe, though, for Manny to snap a two-fight losing streak?
I believe so. Rios likes to exchange, stay in the pocket, but Manny is faster and hits harder. I think Manny will knock him out. I think it will be a great fight, Rios will talk and embarrass himself, but it will be a great fight.
-Rios got in hot water when a video of him emerged apparently mocking you, approximating the symptoms of Parkinson's, which you battle, back in fall 2010. Do you hold that against him?
It showed what an ass he is. Revenge will be great. That doesn't stick with me so much as other people that have Parkinson's who are not boxers. It was a childish thing to do, him and his trainer. They're a bunch of a-------, can't wait to beat them."