By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Freddie Roach revealed something significant Thursday while discussing the older fighters he trains facing younger boxers.
The Hall-of-Fame trainer was talking about 37-year-old Miguel Cotto boxing 29-year-old Sadam Ali on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden (HBO). But Roach mentioned he might have to get another aged legend ready next year for an even more difficult fight against a younger opponent.
Roach told a small group of reporters following a press conference for the Cotto-Ali fight that Bob Arum wants to make a Manny Pacquiao-Terence Crawford fight in 2018. The 85-year-old promoter previously was reluctant to match Pacquiao, who’ll turn 39 on December 17, against the 30-year-old Crawford, presumably because the highly skilled Crawford would’ve presented a troublesome style for Pacquiao.
Roach said “they’re pushing for it” now, but didn’t specify when Pacquiao-Crawford could take place. If Jeff Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs) defeats England’s Gary Corcoran (17-1, 7 KOs) in their December 13 bout in Brisbane, Australia, Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) is expected to challenge Horn for the WBO welterweight title sometime early in 2018.
Crawford, a former undisputed 140-pound champion from Omaha, Nebraska, is the mandatory challenger for Horn’s title. Horn upset Pacquiao, who lost a controversial 12-round unanimous decision and the WBO welterweight title July 2 in Brisbane, Horn’s hometown.
Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs), a senator in the Philippines, has been busy with his political responsibilities recently and hasn’t fought since Horn beat him.
“Arum wants Pacquiao to fight Crawford,” Roach said. “I’m a little bit concerned about that fight. It’s a tough fight. Crawford’s a young guy, coming up and so forth, and Manny probably has seen his best days behind him. But I will still train him and get him ready for that fight, if that does happen. And they’re pushing for it, so it might. But it’s the same situation there. It’s a different generation. We’ve gotta still compete with the younger generation. And I think Miguel will be able to do that, for sure.”
Despite Pacquiao’s age and declining skills, Roach still thinks he can defeat Crawford, who’s typically considered one of the top two boxers, pound-for-pound, in the world.
“I would never go into a fight not thinking we can win,” Roach said. “So by the time we get ready for that fight, we will be a hundred-percent ready to win.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.