Much has been made of Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38KO’s) and what has been seen as his inability to finish his opponents inside the twelve round limit over the last few years. Speaking with Luis Sandoval of Fighthype.com, his trainer Freddie Roach believes this change is characteristic of a more holistic transformation on the part of his fighter and may not necessarily be a bad thing.
As is detailed in the recent feature length documentary Manny, the Filipino has found faith in his thirties and forsaken his old lifestyle that was more in-keeping with the image of a wild fighter. Some believe this has led him to lose the combative edge that propelled him to the top of the sport in such spectacular fashion in the mid-2000’s. Roach sees positives and negatives of the change.
“For me it’s good and bad alright. So he had a lot of bad habits, and he had a lot of good habits. At one time he would gamble maybe a little bit too much, cuz I was afraid, I didn’t want him to do that because I don’t want fighters to be broke at the end of their career. He maybe drank a little too much, he definitely chased the girls a little bit too much. But maybe his testosterone levels are lower now also, that might be taking away from his killer instinct.”
The trade off for Manny in his more serene state?
“His wife’s happy; his family is feeling happy they read the bible every day which probably couldn’t be the worse thing in the world to do. They’re very dedicated to their religion.”
It appears as though the ‘Pac-man’ has undergone a process of softening his overall outlook on life as he focuses on the well-being of his family, making that a priority alongside his success in the ring. The danger of adopting a more altruistic perspective in the prizefighting game is very real however, and one moment of hesitation, one inkling of mercy, can lead to your downfall. But Manny feels that chasing the knockout is not a requisite part of winning for him.
“Does he have the killer instinct he once had? I have to answer honestly and say I don’t think so, but he feels it’s enough to beat the person, you don’t have to kill them or knock em’ out. So that’s kind of where we’re at right now, and that’s what we have to live with.”
There is an underlying yearning here, hinting that Roach would love Manny to rip off the fluffy shackles of his religion and coat his gloves with his opponents’ blood, like back in the good old days. For a moment, he thought the old Manny had reappeared last time out when he beat Chris Algieri last November out in Macau, China.
“I was surprised his last fight when he hurt his opponent, and he jumped on him, he tried to get him out of there, but then he went back to that natural mode. I thought we had a moment, but it didn’t happen. The thing is he’s so explosive though, when he hurts somebody I think his natural response is to finish him.”
If that is true, and Manny is constantly reigning himself back in the name of love for his fellow man, that can’t be a good thing. But then again, he is still beating the cream of the crop in and around the 147 .lb. Division; the fight before he beat Algieri he handed Tim Bradley (31-1-1) his first defeat as a pro in a rematch from their first controversial meeting in 2012. Overall he isn’t doing too bad when you think about it, and Roach thinks his man is still ahead of the curve even though he is not as ferocious as he once was.
“There’s good and bad in his life, yes. Probably more good than bad though. Because the bad things would leave him broke in the end, his wife hating him. I think he’s made some good choices.”