Manny to Manny: Pacquiao needs to face Mayweather at angle

 

 
 
 
 
Freddie Roach, left, Manny Pacquiao’s trainer, with former Olympic boxer Manny Sobral of Vancouver at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles. .
 

Freddie Roach, left, Manny Pacquiao’s trainer, with former Olympic boxer Manny Sobral of Vancouver at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles. .

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VANCOUVER - Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather go toe to toe Saturday night in Las Vegas, and you can bet Pacquiao will play the angles and try to avoid facing Mayweather head on.

So says Manny Sobral, the retired Vancouver boxer who briefly trained under Pacquiao’s legendary cornerman, Freddie Roach, in Los Angeles in the late 1990s.

“Don’t stand in front of your guy,” Sobral says he was repeatedly told back then.

“When you are right in front of a guy, you are taking the whole guy’s impact whereas if you are angling him, the power is diminished,” explained Sobral, who fought for Canada at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

“So that’s probably what their strategy is going to be — just to attack Mayweather on the angles.”

Sobral trained under Roach at his famous Wild Card Gym in Hollywood in 1997, and noticed how great the legendary trainer was with the hand pads. “He was just an amazing pad guy.”

That, despite the fact that Roach was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1993. “The Parkinson’s goes away when he does the hand pads. Even today,” said Sobral. “It’s one of those motor pathways that has superseded everything else.”

In fact, the disease seems to diminish whenever Roach is training in the ring, according to Sobral. “That’s his element.”

For the big fight, Sobral said Pacquiao will have the right man in his corner for other reasons.

Because Roach has boxed in over 50 pro fights himself, not to mention amateur fights before that, “what makes him different is he understands the mentality of the boxers,” Sobral said. “He understands how boxers can go up and down, their psychology.”

He said Roach is known in boxing circles as a great strategist.

Sobral also attributed Roach’s success to his admirable approach in the sometimes murky world of boxing. “He doesn’t talk behind anyone’s back. I think that’s what makes him really successful.”

Sobral visited the Wild Card Gym a couple of years ago, and was immediately recognized and warmly welcomed by Roach.

He also hung out with Pacquiao, who is now 36, for a day and saw the chemistry between him and Roach.

“They are always joking. Manny is like a little kid. He is bouncing around, playing tricks on Freddie, tapping him on the back. ”

Roach has become a father figure to his marquee fighter since the skinny Filipino kid first came to his gym in 2001.

They’ve since climbed the ladder of boxing success together, with Pacquiao becoming the first and only eight-division world champion. The 55-year-old trainer calls Pacquiao his Muhammad Ali.

The bond between a boxer and his trainer is one of the strongest in sports. Witness the magic between Ali and his trainer, Angelo Dundee, under whom Sobral also trained before the 1988 Olympics.

With Pacquiao considered to be the underdog, you can bet that having one of the top boxing trainers in the world in his corner packs a lot of punch.

Watch for the angles. And look for that ironclad bond.

yzacharias@vancouversun.com

Twitter.com/yzacharias

 
 
 
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Freddie Roach, left, Manny Pacquiao’s trainer, with former Olympic boxer Manny Sobral of Vancouver at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles. .
 

Freddie Roach, left, Manny Pacquiao’s trainer, with former Olympic boxer Manny Sobral of Vancouver at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles. .

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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