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MANILA, Philippines – For Manny Pacquiao’s head coach Freddie Roach, their next fight is more personal compared to the rest.
Pacquiao is set to face off with 27-year-old Brandon Rios on November 24, his first bout since his devastating knockout loss to his arch rival Juan Manuel Marquez.
“Well I don’t like this person we’re fighting pretty much so it’s a little personal,” Roach told Rappler at the Wild Card Gym in General Santos.
The conflict between Roach and Rios is not a secret. In 2010, Rios — along with his trainer Robert Garcia and Mexican-American fighter Antonio Margarito — were captured on video mocking Roach’s mannerisms and speech.
In the video, Rios is seen shaking his head, with his eyes half-closed and his neck stretched out, slurring, “Manny Pacquiao!”
The clip made the rounds on the Internet.
Roach, who was a former boxer himself, suffers from Parkinson’s disease, affecting his speech and movements.
“He was very distasteful making fun of my Parkinson’s on national TV, and Manny said to me, did that guy really make fun of you? And I said, ‘Yes, Manny.’ And he just looked at me and that was it. He knows exactly what I want,” Roach said.
Rios has since apologized, saying he didn’t know about Roach’s disease and argued, he was only playing mind games with Roach. The incident happened right before Margarito’s fight with Pacquiao, who defeated Margarito by unanimous decision.
While Roach said he is confident about Pacquiao defeating Rios, the multi-awarded trainer said they are not underestimating the young fighter known for his aggression.
“Standing in front of this guy (Rios) is a little bit dangerous. He’s big and strong and he has a pretty good chin. But Manny uses speed and boxing like he knows [how]. We’re working out. He’ll absolutely destroy him I feel,” he said.
Pacquiao too said he is not taking Rios lightly.
“He’s bigger than me so I don’t want to underestimate him. He trains hard, I train hard… may the best man win.” he said.
Roach was a little more direct.
“I can’t wait for this fight and I particularly don’t like the opponent too much. Manny will be doing me a big favor by knocking this guy out,” he said.
The two fighters are competing for the vacant WBO International Welterweight title in Macau. – Rappler.com