Eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao, Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach and Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum took part in a Q&A session with reporters on the first day of Manny’s USA training camp.
FREDDIE ROACH: It was a pretty tough schedule in this camp but he held up really well. The sparring days were really good and it’s the best I’ve seen Manny in a long time – he is a lot more aggressive than I have seen him in the past and there was a lot of the old Manny Pacquiao coming out and he really, really looked good. We trained right up until Saturday morning before our flight out to Los Angeles and he boxed 10 rounds and he looked great and he’s in great shape, I know it’s been a very difficult camp with the Senate and so forth. Manny has always been a busy person but because of the Senate he seems to be a lot more serious than anything else he has done. He is in Senate sessions on some nights until 7:30 or 8:00 at night and when he is done we go right to the gym.
MANNY PACQUIAO: Hello everyone and thank you Bob and Freddie and the people who are all part of this conversation.
Because of all the work you are doing in the Senate does that mean you are less distracted, being committed to work in one form or the other?
MANNY PACQUIAO: I can say that working in the Senate is not easy, especially, along with training. You need to manage your time and that’s what I did in training for this fight while I am working in the office. I don’t have time really for any other activities – all of my time is with working and training.
Is it a problem for you to be away right now when there are problems with the president?
MANNY PACQUIAO: My work is my work and whatever the comments from the President are – he has a lot of advisors and we know what his statements are. My work is for the people and that is what my job is, to help the people.
What is the most difficult part of trying to do both jobs?
MANNY PACQUIAO: That’s a good question. The most difficult part is trying to control my time and to manage and discipline myself. The most difficult part of training in the past has always been when I do a bad job of managing my time. This time I managed my time and disciplined myself from going to my work to my training and that’s what I did in the Philippines. I don’t have any time to spend with my friends – just time for hard work.
How is it to have you, the most famous Philippine boxer, and now the second most famous Philippine boxer, Donaire on the same card and how come you think it has never happened before?
MANNY PACQUIAO: This is a good boxing card because not only am I fighting on the card but also my fellow Philippine boxer Nonito Donaire, who is the “Pride of the Philippines.” I think it is a good present for us and for the Philippine people for us to fight on this card together.
Do you support your President’s stand against the US and the call for closer relationship with Russia and China?
MANNY PACQUIAO: Clarifying the issues and I think there is nothing wrong to clarify everything. He has clarified everything about the relationship between the United States and the Philippines and it is a healthy relationship. We all respect his statement and he clarified it already.
MANNY PACQUIAO: The bond between the United States and the Philippines is one of longstanding and there is a great kinship between the people of our two countries.
How did you feel in the last Bradley fight – can you tell us about it?
MANNY PACQUIAO: I felt very good in that Bradley fight. It is not the reason I continued to fight though. I came back because I felt lonely, not training with my friends and I felt empty and I realized that I could still train and work so that’s why I decided to fight again.
FREDDIE ROACH: I thought it was a good performance I thought he fought very well. He was accurate a lot more than usual. In this training camp he has been using his speed and his combinations, not just single-punching and he has looked very good and it is probably the best training camp he has had in a long time. I look forward to Manny fighting in this style.
In looking at Vargas’ opponents we don’t see a murderers row, is it difficult to take this fight seriously?
MANNY PACQUIAO: Vargas is a world champion so in no way can I underestimate him. You can never underestimate a boxer who is a champion. He is good. I just have to make sure that I am 100% ready for the fight.
BOB ARUM: No murderers row of opponents but when he fought Bradley he had Bradley out on his feet and because the referee got mixed up he stopped the fight ten seconds too soon so who knows how that would have ended. And he fought Sadam Ali to win the title and Sadam Ali is a terrific fighter – he was a member of the US Olympic Team, he was undefeated and certainly not a tomato can and he entered the fight a big favorite over Vargas and Vargas dominated him and eventually knocked him out. I think that victory alone qualifies Vargas for top level of fighters and opponents for Manny.
I agree on the Ali fight, but Bradley was way ahead on scorecards when Vargas had Bradley out on his feet in the 12th round…
BOB ARUM: We can agree on that but what if he had him out on his feet in the earlier rounds or in the 11th round – the fact that he could put Bradley out on his feet is I think the operative statement.
Have you given any thought to how many fights, if you win, that you may have in 2017?
MANNY PACQUIAO: I don’t know yet. Right now my focus is on this fight. Then I go back and do my job then I could think about 2017.
Will you fight again?
MANNY PACQUIAO: I don’t know yet. One fight at a time. I take them one at a time. I cannot say yes right now. First I think about this fight. Today, Jessie Vargas is the most important fight of my career.
BOB ARUM: Let’s take it one at a time. If Manny comes in and dominates this fight and looks like the old Manny, and wants to continue fighting, there will be certain opponents that will be considered. If he decides that it’s too much juggling two careers then he shouldn’t continue. If he is determined to continue and his performance suffers because of his work in the Senate I would have to look in the direction of somebody else for an opponent. So to jump now about names and so forth, who knows? Manny may look so good in this fight and may have such senatorial presence in the fight that we may be looking for Golovkin next. And if he doesn’t vote right in the senate I think some of his constituents may be urging him to fight Golovkin.
MANNY PACQUIAO: Bob, I hope you are joking about. Golovkin!
Do you have expectations of how the fight will do?
BOB ARUM: We are very optimistic. What’s happened here is – how do you know? Why are you optimistic? We are optimistic because our ticket sales are tremendous at the gate – that is one indication and secondly, our closed circuit operations – the bars and chains and mom-and-pop bars, are doing sales reminiscent of Manny Pacquiao of a couple of years ago. They are being blown away by the response, so the Gagliardi family (closed circuit sales team) are chortling, “Happy Days are Here Again.” So then how does the pay per view do? We think it’s going to really do very well and the reason for that is we are marketing it in a lot of different ways. We are not spending the money on the shoulder programming that is seen only on HBO – we are spending that shoulder money on a new series called “ALL IN” which starts today and will be seen all over the internet – on Facebook, Twitter and on the stuff the young kids are watching. We will be reaching many more millions of people than we reached by the previous shoulder programming. We think it’s the way to go. We think by reaching a tremendous audience with views of the fighters and interviews with Manny and Jessie and pictures and vignettes of the other fighters fighting in the championship fights and telling everyone that they are not going to see one or two world championship fights on the telecast, but FOUR. Every single fight is a world championship fight and every single fight is competitive. We think we are going to do very, very big pay per view numbers. Do I know that for a fact? No. The others I know for a fact because the pay per view numbers — we really won’t get a handle on until the week of the fight. Am I optimistic? Off the charts. Off the charts optimistic. Listen, you can say what you want about Pacquiao and Vargas, I think it’s competitive – certain people don’t and that’s their opinion. Jessie is the kind of guy that can make it a real interesting fight. But everybody says that Nonito Donaire vs. Jessie Magdalena is a competitive, very good and interesting fight. The new featherweight champion Oscar Valdez against the No. 1 contender from Japan is a shootout – it’s a terrific fight. And Zou Shiming has a rematch against Prasitak Papoem of Thailand for the vacant title which will be a very interesting fight – wait till you see the Prasitak – it will look like Shiming is fighting a miniature Manny Pacquiao because this kid is a dead image of Manny Pacquiao. So it will really be a great night of boxing and we think the pay per view is going to be terrific.
Manny, you haven’t won by knockout since 2009, does that matter to you?
MANNY PACQUIAO: Remember my minimum weight is – I can still make 135. I can still make 135 and my natural weight is 140. When I move up into the higher weight divisions it changes my preparation – I eat a lot to make 147. Where I may gain a pound of two between the weigh-in and the fight, my opponent may be a lot heavier. I am not saying that I cannot do that, but what I am trying to do in every fight I try to do my best. It just so happens that my opponent is tough and bigger than me. But I am still trying to do my best to get a knockout in the fight. I am not saying what I am predicting for this fight but if the knockout comes, it will come – it is the bonus for all of your sacrifices in training.
MANNY PACQUIAO: My opponent is bigger than me but that doesn’t matter – I am not disappointing the fans that I have and I did my best. I work hard in the fight and in training and I have proven that to the fans.
BOB ARUM: There is another factor. The fighters that Manny is fighting, because he is so powerful and he throws so many punches and he throws them in bunches and he hurts guys – is that they tend to fight in defense. Now any fighter or trainer will tell you that if that happens it is very difficult to knock somebody out – very difficult. I think with Jessie Vargas, who is an offensive fighter who is going to go after Manny, whose goal is to knock Manny out – I think you will see, one way or another, a knockout in this fight. And it’s a lot because Jessie will be fearless and some people say reckless, will be going after Manny to try and knock Manny out. And when that happens it is easier for the other to knock that guy out – you know that.
Freddie, you have said Manny has been hurting you – do you think he is back to the old Manny?
FREDDIE ROACH: He has been very aggressive in his sparring – throwing combinations and he seems to be getting back to the old Manny – really quick combinations, in and out, flurries and very hard punching. He has been hurting me while on the mitts. My shoulder is a little messed up. Buboy’s hand and shoulders are messed up. We’ll hang in there … but holding the mitts for Manny is not the most fun thing in the world to do – it’s hard, hard work. If he carries that over into the fight I think he will knock somebody out. He hasn’t knocked out any 147-poundersin awhile but again they are much bigger guys and they can take better shots, but I feel that with the combinations and the way he has been training he has been very close to knocking guys out in the gym and so forth. I am very impressed with him in the gym workouts so far.
I have seen some clips where the workout had to end early…
FREDDIE ROACH: We have never ended a workout early. We never end a workout early. That just doesn’t happen. Manny Pacquiao comes into the gym and he works his ass off every day no matter how late we started. When he is in session — if we begin at 8 p.m. — we work out until the workout is over. We have not taken one minute off because of that. He is a Senator and he works very hard to do all of the stuff he has to do at that job. He is busier than usual but he always likes a full plate and he has a full plate right now.
Correct me if I am wrong but wasn’t he sick for a few days in training camp?
FREDDIE ROACH: Was he sick in training camp? No. There was a couple of days I told him to stay home and get some rest when sparring days were the next day and he didn’t listen to me and he shows up anyway. Manny Pacquiao is still the most dedicated fighter I have ever seen. I did get him to take one day off because I told him sparring is more important, so I did get him to take one day off, yes.
How is the process of being a Senator and going to training camp?
FREDDIE ROACH: It has worked pretty well for us so far. We are on one end of it and he’s on the other. We are the ones that have only one job to go to and he has two jobs to go to. It depends on how Manny feels and he looks great. The workouts are good and he is disciplined 100%. He comes in the gym every day no matter what time his Senatorial duties are over and he does a full scheduled workout. I do think he will fight again. And this is the best Manny Pacquiao I have seen in training camp in a long time.
What is the most important legislation you are pushing right now?
MANNY PACQUIAO: Right now I am pushing for the establishment of a boxing commission in the Philippines to focus on boxing that is close to being approved and also sponsoring the restoration of the death penalty.
Are you enjoying the boxing – is it a relief for you – after the Senate?
MANNY PACQUIAO: Absolutely, I am still enjoying boxing that is why I am continuing my career and I am also enjoying my time in the Senate while I am doing my job. I am enjoying both.
Does boxing serve as stress relief after a full day in the Senate?
MANNY PACQUIAO: NO! They are both hard. At the of the day in the Senate I am exhausted mentally and when I get to the gym and have to work hard and after that I am exhausted physically so I have to rest.
Bob, what has it been like working with Manny Pacquiao?
BOB ARUM: It made a tremendous difference to me emotionally. In 1985 I co-promoted a fight in Manila and I spent a lot of time in the Philippines and walked away from the people in the Philippines and in the interim years I had met so many Filipinos who had come to the United States and found them to be charming delightful people and with my association with Manny I have had an opportunity to meet thousands of Filipinos and have spent a lot of time in the Philippines and to meet somebody as dedicated to man kind as Manny Pacquiao. To me Manny Pacquiao symbolizes the best of the Philippine people. Somebody who cares for other people and somebody who dedicates his life to doing good. I think that that has had a great influence on me in my later years. To me when I think about it, made everything that I have accomplished and done in boxing worthwhile because I have had that experience with Manny and the Philippine people.
In Closing . . .
BOB ARUM: Looking forward to seeing everyone on Wednesday at Manny’s media day. I am really excited about this fight. My job is to get people interested and sometimes it is very hard because I have to get myself interested. In this event I really believe – Pacquiao and Vargas I can’t wait to see that fight and the other three title fights are absolutely great and to be able to do an event like this involving fighter from countries all over the world is something special, naysayers who cover the sport, who always talk about boxing being dead, and boxing being this and boxing being that, in negative terms will see, that on November 5 boxing is on the cusp of real greatness. In the 51 years I have been in the sport I have never seen the quantity of terrific fighters that I see today – not only from the United States but from all over the world. From the four corners of the world – from New Zealand, to Kazakhstan, to Russia, the Philippines, China, Brazil, to Ireland – all over the world. We have a great global sport and we will celebrate that sport on the evening of November 5 with a great card of four world championship fights.
FREDDIE ROACH: Manny is in great shape and he’s really looking good and I’m looking forward to this fight and many more to come after that.
MANNY PACQUIAO: I can’t wait for November 5.