Roach: ‘The better Pacquiao looks, the more votes he’ll get’

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – The magic about the gym is that it’s the one place where a fighter can check his worries at the door. The gym was just the place that Manny Pacquiao needed to be on Tuesday afternoon, February 16.

While outrage spread over Pacquiao’s comments comparing homosexuals with animals (for which he apologized on his social media accounts), the 8-division boxing champion sweated away at the Pacman Wild Card Gym here on day two of training camp for his third fight with Timothy Bradley Jr on April 9 in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao, who will be fighting for the first time since his decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr in May 2015, worked the punch mitts for 8 rounds with Roach – one more than he did on the previous day – but slowed down as he finished up on the punching and double-end bags. 

Roach says the two likely won’t do punch mitts together on Wednesday and Pacquiao will instead work the heavy bag. 

“We’re kinda rushing everything; he hasn’t been in the gym for 9 months,” said Roach. “Tomorrow will be just a light day for him and then we’ll pick it up the day after.

“I’m gonna slow him down because I don’t want to burn him out.” 

The 37-year-old Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 knockouts), who has a controversial decision loss and a unanimous decision win in two previous contests with Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KOs), had not trained in the boxing gym once following the Mayweather defeat. 

Pacquiao, typically jovial in the gym, now primarily wears the serious look of a man who knows he has much work to do to return to fighting shape. Still he found the energy to accommodate photo requests from tourists, and to perform a few basketball spin moves on Roach after padwork. 

Roach less concerned about shoulder

The two are still finding their rhythm together – Pacquiao from inactivity, and Roach from being sidelined the past few months with a back injury.

“One time I missed a little bit on one of the straight left hands. I was a little worried because when you overextend yourself, it can cause injuries,” said Roach. But it ended up being ok, it’s just something we have to be a little more careful with. 

Manny Pacquiao worked 8 rounds on the punch mitts today with Freddie Roach. Day two of camp #rstream @rapplersports — Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) February 16, 2016

Inside the gym the microscope remains on Pacquiao’s other arm, the right rotator cuff which was repaired by arthroscopic surgery after the Filipino boxer suffered a tear in training for the Mayweather fight, and then aggravated it during the fight.

Healing of critical injuries like these typically consist of psychological repair as well as physical healing. During one rest period Roach asked Pacquiao outright whether he was still concerned about his shoulder, to which Pacquiao responded that he wasn’t.

“As the days go by I worry less about that,” said Roach.

“I’d rather him be honest with me so I can make adjustments where we need to make them. Because I’m asking him, is it sore on the overhand right, the straight right, the uppercut, and he says it pretty much feels good in every position.”

New motivational tool

As Pacquiao has aged, a constant concern for Roach has been where to find new sources of motivation to keep his fighter hungry. Roach says he has told Pacquiao that a more entertaining performance against Bradley could improve his chances of winning a seat in the Senate when elections are held on May 9.

The latest Pulse Asia survey numbers published on February 6 show Pacquiao ranked between numbers 8-10 for the 12 seats up for grabs.

Pacquiao, a two-term congressman from Sarangani province, has said he will retire after this fight to focus on his political career. 

“I just told him the better he looks in this fight, the more votes he’ll get,” said Roach, who said he told Pacquiao that a knockout win would give him the best shot at winning a spot in the Senate.

“When I told him that he gave me a real big smile. That was a yes.”

Roach remains hopeful that Pacquiao’s next fight isn’t his last, and thinks a standout performance could convince Pacquiao to fight on. Pacquiao’s advisor Michael Koncz allowed as much, saying that a Mayweather rematch would involve such a big purse “that if that was presented to us, we’d have to really consider it.” 

“My goal is to see President Pacquiao fight,” added Roach. –