x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Manny confident as he prepares for Oscar

Trainer Freddie Roach believes Manny Pacquiao will have one significant edge when he fights Oscar De La Hoya: concentration.

Manny Pacquiao, right, spars with his trainer Freddie Roach, left during a media workout in Los Angeles yesterday.
Manny Pacquiao, right, spars with his trainer Freddie Roach, left during a media workout in Los Angeles yesterday.

LOS ANGELES // Trainer Freddie Roach believes Manny Pacquiao will have one significant edge when he fights Oscar De La Hoya: concentration. Roach said the 35-year-old De La Hoya has changed since his younger days as one of the most dominant fighters. "He's not quite as active, he's a little more patient, and he tires a little bit quicker," Roach said yesterday at the Hollywood gym where he trains Pacquiao.

"He has had trouble focusing on the game plan. His mind wanders in there. "He's weak-minded. I'm not saying nothing bad about him. But some people are very strong-minded, like Manny Pacquiao, and he can hold the game plan throughout." Filipino fighter Pacquiao, who faces De La Hoya on Dec 6 in Las Vegas, said he does not know if his opponent is weak-minded. The 29-year-old preferred instead to focus on his preparations ahead of the bout. "Spiritual, physical and mental. You have to focus on that," he said.

The fight will be literally the biggest ever for Pacquiao, who first fought at 106 pounds and will be fighting at the welterweight limit of 147. He has gained weight while De La Hoya has been losing. The taller De La Hoya has fought at 160 pounds but is down to 145. De La Hoya has said he considers himself a natural welterweight. Pacquiao, who weighs 151 pounds, noted the difference in height, but did not seem concerned about any weight issues for the bout.

"I'm very comfortable at this weight. There are a lot of people saying that Manny Pacquiao is moving up a weight division and, 'Is he going to be fast or is he going to be slow?'" Pacquiao said. "In training, we focus on speed, because the speed will be the key in this fight." Roach thinks weight will also be a factor that will work in Pacquiao's favour. After the weigh-in for his 134-pound bout against David Diaz in June, Pacquiao was up to 147 when he stepped into the ring.

"I expected him to be sluggish, thought he put too much weight on," Roach said. "You know what? He didn't. He was great that night, he was explosive. I think it was the best fight he's ever fought. He was very disciplined. There'll be a lot of similarities in this fight." Pacquiao stopped Diaz in the ninth round. Roach said Pacquiao was stronger now that he has gained weight, adding De La Hoya "might be at weight now, but I know he's killing himself making it and I think he's going to be weak going into the fight."

Pacquiao said he is preparing for whatever tactics De La Hoya uses. "My concern is if he jabs and is running, running," he said. "We have been working on that. And we are prepared if he's going to come in and fight toe-to-toe." And Pacquiao is fully aware of the opportunity presented by going up against one of boxing's best-known stars. "This is the biggest fight in my boxing career," he said. "This is my (chance) that the name Manny Pacquiao will be known not only in the Philippines, but in all boxing."

*AP