Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach’s squirm was barely noticeable after fellow trainer Glenn Rushton boldly predicted the latter’s Australian ward Jeff Horn will stop Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao late in the rounds when the two boxers go up the ring Sunday noon for the World Boxing Organi-zation welterweight crown.
But on the sideline, Roach said a much-awaited Pacquiao knock-out could come in the third round if Horn engages his ward in a slugfest.
“No, Manny will knock him out in three rounds,” Roach said instead.
Pacquiao himself has shied away from picturing a knockout win. Instead, he promised fight fans an entertaining fight.
“Part of his (new) religion. He doesn’t feel like he has to hurt people. That’s hard when you are into boxing,” Roach ex-plained.
Pacquiao embraced his born-again faith several years ago, discarding the once ubiquitous rosary he wore every time he climbs up the ring.
He also did away the sign of the cross, a prayer ritual among the 80 million Filipino Roman Catholics, which Pacquiao was once a faithful.
After losing his fly-weight crown to Medgoen Singsurat in September 1999 for only his second career loss, Pacquiao piled up a string of 12 knockout wins highlighted by stop-ping Lehlohonolol Led-waba for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super bantamweight crown and capped with a sensational KO victory against then marquee fighter Marco Antonio Barrera, the then lineal but uncrowned world super featherweight champion.
Pacquiao was held to a savage draw by arch nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez in his next bout and lost to Erik Morales after bouncing back from the Marquez draw to stop Thai Fahsan 3K Battery.
After the Morales loss, however, Pacquiao again went on a tear. He won his next 15 bouts, eight of them by KOs.
In the process, he won five more boxing titles in as many weight divi-sions making him the only boxer, living or dead, to win eight world titles in as many weight classes.
But since stopping Miguel Angel Cotto in the 12th round in 2009, Pacquiao has not stopped an opponent. In fact, he lost thrice during that span, one against fellow Hall of Fame bound Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Former long time lawyer Franklin Gacal Jr. said Pacquiao’s trademark volume punching is now gone.
“He used to throw over a thousand punches every fight. That has dipped tremendously,” he observes.
But Roach sees other reasons.
“He doesn’t want to hurt his opponents. He wants to beat them by decision. That’s good enough,” he said.
During his bloody fight against the bigger and taller Antonio Margarito whose face he turned into a bloody mess, Pacquiao was seen looking at the referee Lawrence Cole as if begging to stop the fight out of compassion to his foe.
Margarito was later diagnosed to have broken bone around his right eye socket.
But the observations that he has lost his appetite for sensational KO victories could be incentive enough for Pacquiao to go for a KO win against Horn.
“But I think he now realizes that is not good enough. That’s why this one (against Horn), he will (go for the knockout),” Roach intimated. (Edwin G. Espejo)