By Rick Reeno
MGM Grand, Las Vegas - One of the big storylines hovering over Saturday's rematch between Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38KOs) and WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley (31-0, 12KOs) - is whether or not Pacquiao will return to his former fiery self.
Pacquiao has always looked impressive in the ring, but there is something missing from some of his recent performances. The eight division world champion has not scored a knockout since a November 2009 TKO over Miguel Cotto.
Roach felt Pacquiao missed the boat on securing several potential knockout wins, because he showed "too much compassion" in fights with Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, the first bout with Bradley, and even last November's win over Brandon Rios.
The Hall of Fame trainer has tried to reason with Pacquiao after several recent fights. Roach pleaded for more aggression in the ring, but he is not sure if his words are finally getting through to the Filipino star.
Over the years, Pacquiao has become very religious - an awakening that many believe is the reason for his reluctance to hurt some of his recent opponents.
"I told him that this is a sport that God doesn't control, you control. I've tried to talk sense to him about not being compassionate, but obviously I haven't got through yet because he was still a little bit compassionate in the last fight. He's a little more fired up for this fight, but I can't guarantee that if he'll hurt [Bradley] he'll finish him. I can't guarantee that," Roach said.
Roach does reveal that there have been some positive signs in camp that Bradley's pre-fight trash talk is getting under the skin of Pacquiao.
"We had knockdowns [during sparring] in this training camp, the first time in a long time since the knockouts stopped. That was a good sign," Roach said.
"When we're on the mitts we talk sometimes about strategy and what's going to happen. He told me one day, 'When I hurt him, this is the combination I'm going to finish him with.' I was so happy to hear that because it came from him and not me."