By Rick Reeno
According to Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, he first noticed eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38KOs) displaying in-ring compassion on November 13, 2010 - the night Pacquiao unleashed a vicious twelve round beating on Antonio Margarito at Cowboys Stadium in Texas.
Roach says he caught Pacquiao talking to Margarito during the championship rounds of the fight. Pacquiao was trying to find out if Margarito was "okay" from all of the punishment he was taking. Margarito suffered a broken orbital bone in the contest.
"That was the [the fight] where I saw [him being compassionate for the first time]. I could read Manny's lips and he was saying [to Margarito] 'are you okay' And [Margarito] said 'yes.' I was a little upset that he didn't finish him. It was getting late in the fight and Manny was looking at the referee like 'come on save this guy.' The ref wouldn't do anything about it or the corner [of Margarito], so [Pacquiao] was content on just winning the rounds at that point. I think every fight should end in a knockout," Roach said.
Following the win over Margarito, Pacquiao appeared to take his foot off the gas against Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez in their third fight, and Timothy Bradley. Pacquiao went to war with Marquez in fight four, and saw himself get knocked out in the sixth round. He returned last November to win a lopsided decision over Brandon Rios.
This Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Pacquiao will face Bradley for a second time.
For the last few months, Bradley (31-0, 12KOs) has firmly maintained that Pacquiao's mean streak is long gone. He says Pacquiao is now a fighter with too much compassion. Bradley feels very strongly that Pacquiao displayed too much compassion and not enough aggression in the Rios fight.
But, Roach says Pacquiao is going to press Bradley all night, because the veteran coach noticed visible flaws when Bradley exchanges punches.
"He likes to exchange when he gets hit. He swings a little bit wild and doesn't throw straight punches. I think when he throws punches like that, his speed is not there so much. He gets wide a little bit [with his shots]. I'm not impressed by his speed," Roach said.
Unlike the fourth fight with Marquez, Pacquiao is going to use "smart aggression" against Bradley. And even though Bradley's percentage of knockouts is low, Roach would never overlook the punching ability of any fighter.
"Anyone in the world can throw a punch and knock somebody out. The thing is, we don't plan to get hit that much by him. We're going to have a lot more head movement than in the Rios fight. We're trying to improve in all areas all the time," Roach said.