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Q&A: Inside the ring with Manny Pacquiao

HBO Sports
Monday, November 18

We know you have a fantastic relationship with Roach. How much has he meant to you personally & professionally?

Manny Pacquiao -- "Freddie Roach has meant everything to my professional boxing career and to me personally. I cannot overstate my feelings for him.

"We bonded the first time we ever worked together and that was at Wild Card Boxing Club in 2001. My then-manager brought me to Wild Card looking for someone to hit the mitts with me and Freddie volunteered. After the first round I went back to my corner and said, "I just found my new trainer," and Freddie went back to his corner and said, "I just found my new fighter." We've been a team ever since.

"Our first fight together was when we got a late call to challenge IBF junior featherweight champion Lehlo Ledwaba. We had only worked together four or five weeks and we won our first world title together when I knocked Ledwaba out. If that's not a sign I don't know what is. It was providence.

"My English was not very good back then but we had no problem understanding each other. Our success as a professional team can be read on my resume, but it's our relationship outside the ring which has meant so much more to me

"At various times Freddie has been a father and a brother to me. When I needed advice or assistance he always came through for me, either personally or by setting me up with the right people. He has been such a big influence on me and he has had a great impact on my life and my career. He gave me the foundation to become the person I am today and if not for Freddie perhaps I would not be able to accomplish the things I have. I am successful and independent because of the years of guidance Freddie has given to me.

"As a trainer Freddie inspires me to be the best I can be inside the gym and inside the ring. He is a wonderful teacher. The way he lives his life and faces his affliction inspires me personally and spiritually.

"Freddie Roach has been good for my soul. He has been a blessing. I never want to let Master Freddie down and I will always pray for him."

Monday, November 11

Similar to your opponent, you enter this fight in unfamiliar position. You are coming off back to back losses--not to mention, to a fighter you've beaten (Marquez) and another some argue you beat (Bradley). How will those experiences prepare you for Rios?

Manny Pacquiao -- "My two previous fights, though both officially losses, have not had a huge impact on me.

"Though I accept the judges' decision I still do not understand their decision to score the fight against me when I fought Timothy Bradley. I was the aggressor throughout the fight. You can clearly see that by mid-fight, Bradley stopped engaging with me because he couldn't keep up with me and take the punishment I was giving him. So he decided to run from me. If there is a lesson to be learned from that fight I guess it's not to take anything for granted. I thought I won the fight then and I still think I won that fight. If your opponent doesn't want to fight, the judges should also take that into consideration. I never felt that I lost that fight. The media and fans never considered that fight a real loss. Compare those feeling to the reaction Bradley faced from the same people. He certainly did not get treated like a conquering champion. Those are his words not mine. As for me, it did not really affect me and I was eager to move forward.

"For my fourth fight against Juan Manuel Márquez I was determined to end our rivalry with finality. In training camp -- and it was one of my best camps -- I was focused on being able to dominate Márquez from the opening bell. I trained hard in camp to attack him from all angles. And though he had his moments early in the fight, I knew I was beating him as the fight wore on. I felt the momentum coming my way and I was hurting him badly. I could see it and feel it. But I got careless. When I heard the sound that only 10 seconds remained in Round Six I could see he was teetering and I thought I could finish him right then or at least land one more major blow to give him and his trainer one more thing to think about between rounds. But I was reckless...careless...in my attack and Márquez landed the perfect shot. I watched the replay in my suite that night and I knew that I made a major error in a fight that I should have won and was winning. But that's boxing. It was an exciting fight and I have not lost any sleep over it or dwelled on it. It's the nature of the sport and you have to accept it. I was fully prepared and had put in my time in training camp. I didn't cut an corners.

"To prepare for Brandon Rios I began my training camp four weeks earlier than I normally do -- 12 weeks total. The first six weeks were dedicated to conditioning and the last six weeks to boxing. It's not so much what I have learned from the Bradley and Márquez fights that is preparing me for my battle with Rios, it's what I have done in advance of my training camp for the Rios fight, and that is to rest. Taking the longest break of my professional career refreshed me physically and mentally. Though I always enjoy training for a fight, I was more eager than usual for this training camp. I missed boxing. I stayed in shape by playing basketball and volleyball daily and that was refreshing, too, because it gave me a healthy diversion from boxing. But now that I am finally back in the gym I feel like the 25-year-old Manny Pacquiao. Speed, endurance, focus and power are all there. I feel like I'm gliding in the ring. Sometimes I have to look down to see if my feet are even on the ground. I feel great. It has also been the most harmonious training camp I can remember, and that has been a big factor.

"The biggest lesson I have learned over the past year has not come from my losses to Bradley and Márquez. It's come from being out of the ring for nearly one year. I have come to appreciate boxing even more. I enjoy it now more than ever. I love it and I can't wait to return to the ring on November 23 to show everyone that Manny is back and ready to compete with anyone in the sport. It's going to be an exciting fight and I look forward to giving the fans a great show."

Monday, November 4

Rios is getting ready for the best Pacquiao ever. How dangerous of an opponent is Rios in your eyes?

Manny Pacquiao -- "Brandon Rios is an extremely dangerous opponent. He is young, strong and has no quit in him. I raced him up the steps of the Great Wall. He's a competitor.

"I have seen Rios fight and I am confident that I will win the fight. One of my advantages is my experience against better opposition. A more diversified opposition.

"Rios is an aggressive fighter. He likes to fight on the inside and toe-to-toe. He likes to fight, period. It will be a very entertaining fight for the fans. It will be all-action. A real fight and not a track meet. I am 100% confident of winning this fight. The focus of this camp has been on speed and footwork, which have been my advantages in previous successful fights. I'll be more careful to avoid the careless error I made against Márquez.

"I want to prove to everyone that I still can fight like the old Manny Pacquiao. I need to restore the public's confidence in me and my abilities. It's important that this be an impressive victory. I have already begun to visualize my fight with Rios.

"My gameplan for Rios will be similar to the one I had for Ricky Hatton. That fight didn't go long enough for me to unveil everything. Maybe this time I'll be able to show more of that plan. Maybe."

Monday, October 28

The majority of your professional fights have been in the US. Why fight in Macau now? How do you ensure that you knock out Rios and not the other way around?

Manny Pacquiao -- "This was an exciting opportunity to be a part of the biggest boxing event in a blossoming boxing market. I love meeting new people and this is a big chance for the sport of professional boxing to develop interest in it to one of the biggest untapped markets in the world. It's great for the sport and it gives me a chance to fight near my country where they don't have to spend a lot on travel to see me in action. Plus, it's nice not to suffer from jet lag traveling to a fight. Macau and the Philippines, where I am training, are in the same time zone and have the same climate. I could get used to that!

"It's important for boxing to develop new markets like Macau, China and all of Asia. It's good for boxing to have more good Asian boxers turn pro. Hopefully the more shows we do in China, the more Asian fighters will be encouraged t become professional. I think Macau, with is early success with Zou Shiming, could become a boxing capital.

"I never go looking for the knockout, but you can be sure after getting careless with Juan Manuel Márquez, I won't be setting myself up for getting knocked out. With age comes maturity and with maturity comes patience. I will not rush in looking to knock Rios out but rest assured if the opportunity presents itself I will go for it.

"This has been an excellent training camp. The first six weeks were spent on conditioning and now I am sparring three days a week. It's great to have Master Freddie [Roach] back in camp with me. This will be my longest training camp. I feel so fresh having taken 10 months off. I have never done that before. My legs have an extra bounce to them and I feel so strong and fast.

"Freddie has studied a lot of film of Rios' fights and has developed a very special plan for fighting him.

"The question isn't "Am I ready for Rios?" It's "Is Rios ready for me?"

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