by David P. Greisman
It was a brutal moment — Manny Pacquiao had been knocked out with one punch, was unconscious before he hit the canvas and remained so for some time afterward.
That was last December, and Pacquiao will soon be fighting for the first time since that loss to Juan Manuel Marquez. Trainer Freddie Roach says the knockout is not on Pacquiao’s mind as he approaches his Nov. 23 pay-per-view bout with Brandon Rios.
“He’s definitely put the knockout behind him,” Roach said on a Nov. 13 media conference call. “Manny Pacquiao is a realist. He knows that the knockout is part of the sport. He realizes that. He said, ‘If you don’t think you can be knocked out in this sport, you picked the wrong sport.’ He’s totally recovered, and he’s as great as ever in the ring.”
Roach depicted the knockout as a product of circumstances, and that those circumstances could have been different had Pacquiao not rushed in at Marquez at the end of the sixth round, and had Marquez not landed a great counter shot.
“If you look at that fight, Manny was having probably one of the best fights he’s fought in a long time,” Roach said. “These things happen. Marquez is a great fighter who knew to throw the right punch at the right time. But the thing is this, in that fight, if Manny had waited one second more and it went to the next round, Manny was going to win that fight by knockout.”
Roach acknowledged the skepticism that Pacquiao can move on after the knockout, noting that knockouts do sometimes change people. He also pointed out that Pacquiao had been knocked out twice before, much earlier in his career.
Roach also noted that his own mentality was different back when he was still boxing.
“When I got knocked out for the first time, it changed my whole career. I was never quite as brave. I was never quite as vicious,” Roach said. “Pacquiao is not like me. He’s a realist. He accepts it. I don’t think everybody thinks the same way as Pacquiao, but he accepts it. It doesn’t bother him.”
Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon . Send questions/comments via email at email@example.com