By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Freddie Roach is more than willing to become boxing’s Bible-thumping trainer, if it’ll inspire Manny Pacquiao to seek knockouts the way the powerful southpaw once did.
Roach and Pacquiao agreed Thursday with Timothy Bradley’s assertion that Pacquiao lacks the aggression and killer instinct that made him one of the most fearless, ferocious fighters of this era. It is up to Roach, the famed trainer said before the Pacquiao-Bradley news conference in Manhattan, to guide Pacquaio toward rediscovering his inner beast against Bradley on April 12 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas
“I know Manny’s very big into the Bible,” Roach said. “I’m not going to win an argument with the Bible. But the thing is, there’s a lot of violence in the Bible and there’s a lot of killer instinct in the Bible. To do my job correctly, I’ve got to point these things out to Manny, that there is killer instinct in the Bible, also. That’s what most wars are fought about, religion.”
Cognizant of Pacquiao’s diminished brand, Roach is willing to try whatever works. He is well aware Pacquiao hasn’t recorded a knockout since he stopped Miguel Cotto in the 12th round of their November 2009 welterweight title fight in Las Vegas.
“We need a knockout real soon,” Roach said. “I’ll be pushing for it.”
Roach thought Pacquiao could’ve knocked out Bradley in their June 2012 fight, yet seemed content to win their 12-round bout by decision. That strategy obviously cost Pacquiao, who lost an infamous split decision at MGM Grand.
“When Manny hurt Bradley the first time, he didn’t bother to finish him and thought it was enough to win a decision,” Roach said. “I disagree with that. That’s why the paydays are less and the pay-per-view [buys] are less. I told Manny, ‘You tell me you want give people what they want. They want knockouts.’ ”
Though the 35-year-old Pacquiao’s decreased aggression has been a persistent problem in recent years, Roach thinks Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) is more ready than ever to address the issue against the 30-year-old Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs, 1 NC).
“I think he finally realized it,” Roach said, “because he’s not making nearly as much money as he has in the past and his pay-per-view numbers have dropped drastically. He wants to be back on top again. The way to be back on top again is to start knocking people out and be impressive. It’s not enough just to win fights. I’ve been telling him every day, ‘It’s not enough to win. You have to win impressively. That’s what people want. What your fans really want to see is Manny Pacquiao knocking somebody out.’ ”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.