A jam-packed work schedule is how he likes it these days, so the only nod Freddie Roach made to St. Patrick's Day was wearing a green t-shirt.
Coach Roach has Manny Pacquiao at the Wild Card, and Monday was not a party day, no time was set aside for indulgence, he told me on a Tuesday phoner.
He splurged, he said, with some pizza, and I joked that perhaps he ordered it a la vodka sauce, to give a nod to the libationary mode some folks enjoy around that holiday.
Roach chuckled, still on somewhat of a high from last week's visit from another Hall of Famer from another realm, folk/rock icon Bob Dylan. "I asked him how his gym in Santa Monica is doing," Roach informed me. "And I told him I am friends with Bruce "The Mouse" Strauss, an old bodyguard of his."
Roach said Dylan wasn't excessively chatty, and he later learned why. "He called me later, and apologized," the trainer said. "There was a camera guy following me, and Dylan is kind of camera shy."
Roach and I thundered at the kids of today, for not knowing who Dylan is, sounding like two old cranks. But the Pacman, they all know. And, Freddie says, this 2014 version is looking sharp, and his motivation is sky-high heading to the April 12 battle with Tim Bradley, which screens on HBO PPV. He's not tangled up in any blue period, getting nostalgic for days gone by, when maybe it was a tiny bit easier to get up for those 5 AM runs. Nossir...
Pacquiao (55-5-2 with 38 KOs) has been handling his five sparring partners well, and opening up, and laying a bit of a smackdown on them at times, Roach reported. Stevie Forbes has been giving the Congressman good looks, approximating Tim Bradley's style well, he said. This time, unlike in 2012, "Manny will fight three minutes of every round," he said. "Last time he fought the last minute. If he uses quick combos for three minutes, I don't think Bradley can hold up. He's taken a lot of punishment. He will stop him. He fought against Ruslan with a concussion, fer chrissakes. That can't be good for you. I think when Manny pushes him, he will knock him out.
"Manny knows he has to be more aggressive this time than last," he continued. "He does have it in him."
I challenged Freddie, noting that we've heard contentions that the KO will come before, and I wondered how and why it will be different this time. "I thought he should have knocked Bradley out last time, but through six rounds, it was so easy, Manny started coasting. That's not gonna happen this time."
Yes indeed, Freddie is sounding like Pacman will notch the first stoppage since 2009 (TKO12 of Miguel Cotto in November of that year). "We thank Bradley for that killer instinct comment," Dedham Freddie said. "Manny said to me, 'Can you believe he said that to me?' Manny is really motivated to knock this guy out. We're not going in looking for the KO, but if it comes, and we have the opportunity to hurt him, we will finish him off. No mercy."
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV