By: Sean Crose
“It’s all about boxing immortality for Manny Pacquiao,” says the Filipino legend’s longtime trainer, Freddie Roach. The man should know. Since coming to America and working under Roach’s tutelage, Pacquiao has become one of the biggest names in sports, never mind boxing. Now, at 42 years of age, the fighter known as PacMan is once again working under Roach’s guidance as he prepares for his August 21st fight with the younger, bigger, Errol Spence, a multi-titlist who also happens to be one of boxing’s rising stars.
For all intents and purposes, it should prove to be a fairly smooth ride for Spence – only Pacquiao has a tendency to defy the odds. Take Pacquiao’s last fight, back in 2019 when he upset the bigger, younger, red hot titlist Keith Thurman. The man was forty at the time. Needless to say, people are now slow to claim Pacquiao can’t do the same thing at 42. “Manny lives for the challenge and the competition, says Roach. “Manny loves hearing that the Las Vegas odds and the media favor Errol Spence.” Not that the 8 time champion thinks fighting Spence will resemble anything like a walk in the park.
“Manny knows it’s a tough fight,” Roach says, “probably his toughest – but that’s why he began his conditioning so early in the Philippines.” That’s also why Pacquiao jumped straight into working with Roach once he arrived in America. “Usually, jet lag keeps him out of the gym for one day the first week he arrives in Los Angeles,” says Roach. “Not this time. He has been here every day, training two and half to three hours each afternoon. I usually hold off sparring the first week, but Manny insisted on sparring yesterday, so we brought in Maurice Lee (5’11) and Alexis Rocha (5’10), who went two rounds each with Manny.”
No matter how the fight in August turns out, there’s little doubt that time is winding down for Pacquiao’s ring career. Who, after all, could argue he’s now closer to the beginning of his resume than to it’s end? “Manny has achieved so much in his boxing career and in his life,” says Roach. “But everyone in camp can sense this fight has a special meaning. It is not just about beating a top pound-for-pound fighter or winning more titles.”
“I am a Red Sox fan,” Roach claims, “and I can tell he wants to go out like Ted Williams did, hitting a home run in his last at bat.” Legendary stuff indeed. “By the way,” Roach adds, “Ted Williams was also 42 when he did that.”