Sports

Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather: Is Freddie Roach the Key?

| by Alex Groberman

Manny Pacquiao is surrounded by a lot of people. A lot of loud, influential people. Between Bob Arum and Alex Ariza and Michael Koncz, you never really know what direction the Filipino champion is being pulled to -- be it regarding Floyd Mayweather Jr. or anything else -- or who exactly he’s trying to accommodate. Every single one of those guys has their own self-interests that they’re constantly trying to take care of, so what the fans want and what’s best for Pacquiao in the long-term inevitably tends be a little lower on the overall priorities list.

There is one guy in Pacquiao’s corner, though, that always carries himself like he’s looking out for his guy. If Arum is the little devil on the champ’s shoulder guiding him towards wherever the biggest payout is in spite of what it means for his legacy, this guy is the angel on the other shoulder. When these two (sort of) clashed after last November’s controversial bout versus Juan Manuel Marquez, it wound up being a movie-like battle of good versus evil.

And when it’s all said and done, it’s this mystery force of good in Pacquiao’s camp that may ultimately play the biggest role in whether or not the champ takes on Mayweather before he hangs up his gloves.

We’re talking about Freddie Roach, of course.

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The one thing that everyone -- regardless if you’re a fan of his fighters or not -- can respect about Roach is that he doesn’t pull any punches. Whether he’s offering real talk on Timothy Bradley’s inadequacies as a fighter or Mayweather’s shady ways or his own guy’s shortcomings – Roach always keeps it one hundred.

During a recent interview (via The Examiner), Pacquiao’s trainer got very honest and very realistic about what it would take to get a bout versus Mayweather. Check it out:

“Well, I thought Mayweather was coming to the table, calling us out. He made a very bold move and then he knows how to protect himself with the 70/30 split,” Roach said in the clip.

“I want to train the best fighter in the world, and the reason why I stay around is to get him ready for Mayweather when it does happen. And I’m sure that’s why Manny is still here also, because we feel it’s going to happen, we hope it’s going to happen, we’re going to do everything in our power to make it happen.”

Once again, Roach brings clarity and common sense to a situation that’s constantly dominated by ridiculousness, stupid pride and irrationality.

Mayweather did bust a completely out of left field move when he went on a multi-week Twitter rampage petitioning for a fight versus his arch rival, only to turn around and offer a completely illegitimate purse split. Yes, Pacquiao did agree to give Mayweather the lion’s share of the money and then reneged on that offer, but that’s the nature of the game. The undefeated champ should have rolled with the punches.

And by the same token, Pacquiao needs to realize that he’s dealing with a prima donna like no other in sports, here. That if this is really about carving out a place in boxing lore above all else for him, he’ll have to do as Roach says and be prepared to make some substantial financial sacrifices. His recent 70-30 split offer is definitely a step in the right direction, but it remains to be seen whether or not it will be enough.

The really great thing about Roach’s comments is that it reinforces the notion that at least one guy who has Pacquiao’s ear has more than just his own interests in mind. Sure, boxing fans and readers of this site have been saying what Roach is saying now for a long time, but it’s important that someone within the Filipino champ’s inner circle is speaking this sort of stuff.

Personally, I think it’s no coincidence that this tape of Roach saying what he’s saying comes out on the heels of Pacquiao’s most recent offer to Mayweather.

Whether or not Pacquiao versus Mayweather ever actually goes down remains to be seen, but this much is for certain: if it doesn’t, it won’t be for a lack of trying on Roach’s part.

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