Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 December 2019

Manny Pacquiao's rediscovered aggression is bad news for Keith Thurman, warns trainer Freddie Roach

The Filipino world champion has relocated to Los Angeles to increase his training ahead of the July 20 clash with the undefeated American in Las Vegas

Manny Pacquiao has rediscovered his aggressive streak as he prepares to silence trash-talking Keith Thurman, says veteran trainer Freddie Roach.

The Filipino, boxing’s only eight-division world champion, relocated from Manila to Los Angeles at the weekend to increase his training ahead of the July 20 clash with the undefeated American in Las Vegas.

Now based at Roach’s fabled Wild Card gym, Pacquiao has apparently been riled by some of his opponent’s comments in the build-up to the welterweight title unification bout at the MGM Grand, with Thurman saying he will send his rival, now aged 40, into retirement.

Speaking on Thursday, Pacquiao sounded typically measured, saying: "My response to him is we'll see. He is giving me more motivation and determination to work hard and prove that it's not true. I'm happy that he's saying that… it gives me inspiration to focus and do the best that I can in the ring."

However, various members of Pacquiao’s team have confirmed the pre-fight barbs have been getting under his skin. Roach, meanwhile, told AFP that Pacquiao has been “upset” by Thurman’s comments.

"Manny's motivated for all his fights and this time, this guy's talking a little trash," Roach said. "So that helps. Manny has got a bit upset. He wants to win this one a little bit more than usual."

Roach, who said he had taken once more to wearing protective padding around his torso during intense mitt sessions with Pacquiao, believes his star pupil has become more aggressive despite his strong religious beliefs.

Pacquiao, whose record moved to 61-7-2 following his unanimous points victory against Adrien Broner in January, is a devout Christian.

"Manny's work ethic is great," Roach said. "He works hard, and is incredibly dedicated. But he doesn't have the killer instinct that he used to have.

"I think religion took that away from us. For a while he would tell me that he just needs to beat his opponents and not knock them out. But he doesn't say that any more. He's getting more aggressive.

"He was more aggressive in his last fight than I've seen him in years. I hope that continues into this fight. Because when Manny's aggressive he's a much better fighter."

Both boxers hold versions of the WBA championship, with Pacquiao set to make the second defence of his “world” welterweight crown.

Thurman, 10 years his junior, retained the “super” welterweight belt when he clinched a unanimous decision against Josesito Lopez in January. Ending an almost two-year hiatus from boxing, it lifted Thurman’s record to 29-0.

Updated: June 21, 2019 12:38 PM

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