By Keith Idec
Freddie Roach continued to exude confidence just before Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley weighed in Friday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“Well, he’s a young guy, coming up,” Roach told HBO’s Max Kellerman regarding Bradley. “He’s in his prime right now. He’s undefeated and he’s a little bit resilient. But believe me, this is not the end of Manny Pacquiao — guaranteed.”
When Kellerman asked Roach to discuss Pacquiao’s game plan for their 12-round welterweight title fight Saturday night, Roach added, “Well, the thing is you can’t fight this guy flat-footed. We know that. We’re going to moving in and out, side to side, lateral movement. We’re going to box really, really smart and he’s not going to win a round.”
Slightly surprised, Kellerman asked, “He’s not going to win rounds?”
“He won’t win one round,” Roach reiterated.
Roach’s prediction didn’t bother Joel Diaz, Bradley’s trainer, as much as it rubbed HBO analyst Emanuel Steward the wrong way. Steward, of course, will go head-to-head with Roach on June 16, when Steward’s fighter, Andy Lee, challenges Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., whom Roach trains, for the WBC middleweight title in El Paso, Texas.
“I really don’t like this attitude of predicting that Bradley won’t win a round,” Steward told HBO’s Jim Lampley during the network’s live coverage of the weigh-in. “I think that type of maybe almost like arrogance, to some degree, when you’re fighting a guy like Bradley. It shouldn’t be conveyed to the fighter. You always respect your opponent first and then you start laying out the [strategy].
“But I think [Roach is] overlooking Bradley and I find Bradley to be the toughest guy that Manny could fight outside of Mayweather and Marquez, because of styles, but also because of the mental makeup of Bradley. He’s a tough, tough fighter, physically and mentally. And he will be right there, all the way throughout the fight.”
Diaz insisted that he hasn’t been affected by anything Roach has said during the promotion of their 12-round fight for Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title (HBO Pay-Per-View; $54.95; 9 p.m. EDT/6 p.m. PDT).
“Well, I’m glad that he thinks that way,” Diaz said. “I’m glad that he thinks that Tim don’t hit hard. Everything is going to work out in our favor that night. I mean, nothing bothered me. Anything that Freddie says has not bothered me whatsoever. I just got my plan and I’m very focused on my fight plan, and it’s going to work that night. It’s not going to be their way. It’s going to be my way.”
Kellerman then asked about the unbeaten Bradley’s blueprint for becoming the first fighter since Erik Morales in March 2005 to defeat Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs), who has won 15 straight fights.
“The fight plan is to frustrate Manny Pacquiao from the beginning,” Diaz said, “and start breaking him down to the body, and take his speed away, and then start going to the head.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.