By Chris Robinson
It was a crowded scene on Tuesday in the main lobby of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao invaded the scene amidst a sea of adoring fans four days before his trilogy bout with Juan Manuel Marquez. As Pacquiao was busy conducting interviews in the center of the makeshift ring, I spotted his chief coach Freddie Roach out of the corner of my eye and had a few words with the three-time trainer of the year.
Roach and Pacquiao have had a storied run together in the sport, dating back to Pacquiao’s June 2001 upset over then-IBF junior featherweight champion Lehlo Ledwaba. Six divisions and numerous accolades later, Roach insists he still is on edge whenever his star pupil fights.
“I won’t get nervous until the day of the fight, but I always get butterflies and that’s always a good thing because I think it shows that I still care,” said Roach.
There was news coming from Floyd Mayweather’s camp recently as the fighter’s advisor Leonard Ellerbe announced that a return was in the works for May 5th of next year. The simple fact that the announcement didn’t come from Mayweather himself seemed to be reason enough for Roach to be skeptical.
“Mayweather didn’t announce his return,” Roach noted. “Leonard Ellerbe did. Who the f*** is Leonard Ellerbe? Some gofer? Come on, give me a break. Why do we even need to listen to that guy?”
Pacquiao and Mayweather have been linked to one another for over two years now but the possibility of them actually fighting seems to be too much of a trying proposition at this point. From Roach’s perspective, he simply feels that Mayweather wants no part of the bout, and if he did, he would have shown some kind of initiative by now.
“All he has to do is sign the contract. He won’t do it. That says it all.”
The last salvo towards the decorated trainer was the possibility of junior welterweight champion Amir Khan entering the fray as an opponent for Mayweather. Roach trains the British star and while he could see him facing Floyd one day, he ruled out a fight with Pacquiao.
“They’re with the same promoter, possibly. But the thing is, all I know is that Amir and Manny won’t fight each other because they have a lot of respect for their coach and respect for each other.”
[Reader's note: For a behind-the-scenes look at Pacquiao's Grand Arrival to Las Vegas on Tuesday, please visist Pacquiao invades the MGM Grand before Marquez clash ]