Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
by Kieran Mulvaney
Freddie Roach is deeply concerned about Manny Pacquiao's training camp. Except when he isn't.
The narrative for much of the first two episodes was of the chaos surrounding Pacquiao's camp, the fighter's distractions, the fact that being a Congressman left him with an owee on his heel. By episode 3, everything was sweetness and light, Manny was in great shape and sparring partners were being beaten up again. Nonetheless, expect questions about Pacquiao's conditioning and training to be asked loudly and frequently during fight week.
Manny is in charge
Pacquiao refers to Roach as “my Master” and with his happy demeanor and sing-song voice (to say nothing of his singing voice) comes across at times – OK, most of the time - as a little kid. Witness the way he seemed in episode 2 to not want to fess up to Roach and Alex Ariza that he was headed to Las Vegas for a day. But he is an experienced fighter, he knows what he is doing, and it is he, not Roach, who is in ultimate control. If he weren't, of course, then Roach would probably never let him spar for even a single day in Baguio. But he clearly demonstrated his independence in episode 3, when he rejected elements of Ariza's conditioning program because he didn't like the results. Pacquiao has made a decision to emphasize speed over power, and whether they like it or not, Roach and Ariza are having to go along with it.
Pacquiao had better be in shape
Antonio Margarito is ridiculously shredded. He looks to be in tremendous physical condition, and appears to be focused and to be training with a resolute focus and determination. And why wouldn't he be? This is it for him, a shot at redemption, an opportunity to prove that he belongs at the top table and that he can get there fair and square. He can show that the wipeout loss to Shane Mosley was an aberration, a consequence of lack of focus and poor training and not a sign of decline or lack of confidence once the knuckle pads in his wraps had been discovered.
Margarito doesn't care what you think about him
From Day One, Margarito has been utterly unapologetic about the hand wraps scandal. He said he didn't know a thing about what trainer Javier Capetillo had inserted into his wraps, and as a result he never felt the need to say sorry to boxing fans or even Shane Mosley for the fact that, in one fight at least, he was all set to enter the ring with an illegal weapon in his gloves. By episode 3, his demeanor suggested that he feels he is the one being treated unfairly. He's even prepared to joke about the incident, allowing others to place actual blocks of plaster on his hands while trainer Robert Garcia wraps them. You might not like that, I might not like that, but he doesn't care, and neither do his fans, who are clearly prepared to forgive and forget.
Stretch Hummers are never cool
I mean, seriously. Did you see that thing?
24/7 could probably do a good job of hyping Bambi vs Godzilla
There has been a lot of speculation and assumption on the Interwebs that much of the drama and controversy surrounding Pacquiao's supposed lack of conditioning is all a figment of 24/7's imagination, a hype job to sell a one-sided fight. It isn't. Each episode actually does an extraordinarily good job of reinforcing the word coming out each week from insiders in, and observers of, both camps. Big fights generate plenty of discussion among journalists during the days and weeks preceding them; if those discussions were moderated by Liev Schrieber with an orchestral score in the background, I'd probably never leave the press room. Of course, as long as there's free food available, I don't leave the press room anyway, but that's another story.