Freddie Roach recollected how his journey with Manny Pacquiao began after enjoying years of success with the current pound for pound king.
Pacquiao, 37, is once again considered the world’s top welterweight following a recent two-fight resurgence on the back of losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in their super-bout of 2015.
As Pacquiao approaches what could be his final year in the sport, Roach looked back to his initial meeting with the Filipino Senator prior to a partnership that would breed several world titles.
“I knew he was special that first day I met him, but I did not know how special. I thought he’d win a couple of world titles, not eight world titles,” Roach told The Philippine Star.
“People were telling me having a gym was a pain in the ass but you never know when the next Muhammad Ali will walk through your door. After just one round with Manny doing mitts, I knew he was special.
“I’ve had guys with power before, and I’ve had guys with great speed before, but I’ve never really had a guy who had both. Most small fighters are not big knockout artists. Manny is. When we were going to fight Ledwaba, people were telling me ‘Your guy’s going to get killed. I said no, he’s not. When we knocked Ledwaba out, they believed me.”
On Pacquiao struggling to find his stoppage power over the past few years, Roach added: “When you move up in weight, some guys carry their punch with them and become better punchers, but a lot of guys don’t punch as hard because they’re hitting bigger guys and can take a better punch.
“By the time we got to welterweight, Manny wasn’t really big puncher anymore. And he’s never really knocked out any welterweight fighters. People are criticizing me for making him too good a boxer and they don’t have the big knockout anymore. But Manny needed to become a better boxer to compete with these bigger guys.
“We developed the right hand a lot, drills every day on that. It was a lot of footwork. You fight a 147-pounder, by fight time he weighs 160 and Manny still weighs 140 pounds. Against Vargas Manny was 144, the opponent was around 168.”