HOLLYWOOD–He didn’t used to be, but under the tutelage of Coach Freddie Roach, Manny Pacquiao has become quite adept at ducking and slipping punches.
Today’s new and improved Pacquiao, according to Professor Roach speaking Wednesday at the Wild Card Gym, is “80 percent better” in the ring than he was going back to the first time the Pinoy Idol fought Mexico’s vaunted counterpuncher, Juan Manuel Marquez.
Pacman did not get so much media attention back then, this coming before he took his perch as the sport’s pound for pound king, but he is now equally slick when it comes to dodging or ducking questions for nosy reporters such as moi.
Example: Manny, do you really dislike Marquez so much for all his bitching and moaning about having gotten robbed of two decisions against you?
Answer A: (Smiles) “I almost forgot that moment. But you have that, you have that freedom to say that, to complain.”
Answer B: “I’m not pissed of because of what happend after those two fights. It’s nothing personal.”
Pressed on the subject, Pacquiao began discussing how his persona changes when his ring walk is over and he is in the ring.
“When I walk to the ring, I am smiling, I am happy because this is everything that we trained for. We’re both gonna show our best. We’ve done all the hard work in the gym.”
Then the trip to to a sunny beach smiles dissipates and, in Pacman’s own words, he is transformed.
“It’s when the referee gives the instructions in the center of the ring. That’s when it happens. That is when my aura changes, that is when I turn into a warrior.
“That’s my aura, that from then on, I have turned into a warrior.”
Pacquiao is a different fighter–bigger, stronger, more explosive and better on defense–than the 2004 Pacquaio and the 2008 Pacquiao who was able to floor Juan Ma four times, three times in the opening round of the first bout and once in the rematch.
And, Megamanny noted, so is Marquez.
“I saw him fighting with Mayweather and Marquez looked slower but not too slow,” Pacquiao said.
“Mayweather made him look slower but Marquez still has his hand speed.”
Another difference from their first 24 rounds is the warm regard so many Mexicans now display for the Filipino, something he said he really appreciates.
“I’m surprised by that. I have so many fans of Mexico. I think that maybe they love the way I fight, they love me because of my style.”
Someone asked what Manny thinks is the biggest difference between his first two bouts against Juan Ma and this 2011 version, the triology bout.
Pacquiao opted for humor.
“The difference is now we can go 36 rounds….I don’t know, my job is really the same.”
More Manny on other topics.
Will he ever fight Roach’s pupil and world champ, Amir Khan?
“I don’t know, I have no idea.”
Will he quit after three or four more fights, perhaps when he becomes the Governor of Sarangani?
“I don’t know but I won’t stay long (in boxing). It is hard to say.”
I asked Pacman if he could fight on if he had higher executive political offices and thus more pressing daily duties to handle for consitutents.
Pacman laughed again.
“Ha, that is the question mark. That is a big question mark.”