By: Sean Crose
“He always works hard,” trainer Freddie Roach says of his most famous fighter, Manny Pacquiao, “his work ethic is the best in the world.” Now in his forties, Pacquiao was training to face young lion Errol Spence in a welterweight megafight on August 21st. A Spence eye injury, however, opened the door for the skilled Yordenis Ugas to step in as Pacquiao’s opponent. Simply put, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime for the Cuban born fighter. According to Roach, however, Pacquiao – whose been at the top of the fight game for well over a decade – hasn’t missed a beat in camp.
“Same person, same guy,” he says of Pacquiao in an ES News video, “(he) puts the extra hours in all the time.” To be sure, footage of Pacquiao in training in the leadup to his fight this week has been impressive. There are prime fighters who don’t look as good as the man on the road or in the gym. The Filipino icon is undoubtedly something different. Still, Roach and Pacquiao both realize that, while Spence is a southpaw, Ugas fights out of an orthodox stance. Roach, however, doesn’t appear to be alarmed. “You know,” he says, “we fight so many lefties and so many righties.”
Not that Roach finds the current situation to be optimal. “We’d probably rather fight a left handed fighter,” Roach says, “but a right handed fighter we’ve fought more of.” With a whopping record of 62-7-2, Pacquiao has undoubtedly faced all variety of fighters. Although Roach brings up the fact that many fighters in Pacquiao’s native Philippines are southpaws, there’s no doubt he’s battled countless orthodox boxers throughout the years.
As for the injured Spence, Roach feels sorry for the guy. “I felt bad for him,” Roach says when asked how he reacted when he heard the news of Spence’s having to step out of the fight. “I felt bad for him when he was in the car accident. I wonder if they (the eye injury and the car accident) were not connected.” With that being said, Roach is happy that Spence has had his eye operated on. “He had surgery,” Roach says of Spence. “That’s great because once it detaches, its over.” Whether or not Pacquiao will ever get the chance to face Spence remains to be seen. The truth is that he’s going to have to focus intently on Ugas at the moment, for the 26-4 fighter is no soft touch. No doubt Ugas aims to make the most of his first time in the spotlight. Pacquiao, however, is an old hand when it comes to such large scale events.