WATCH: Pacquiao is still lightning quick as Vargas fight nears

Ryan Songalia
WATCH: Pacquiao is still lightning quick as Vargas fight nears
Freddie Roach believes Manny Pacquiao will use Jessie Vargas' aggression against him to score a knockout

LAS VEGAS, USA – Manny Pacquiao sharpened up his reflexes with a few rounds on the punch mitts at the Top Rank Gym in Las Vegas, on Tuesday, November 1, just 4 days away from his challenge of WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao worked the pads with trainer Freddie Roach for 4 rounds, even switching orthodox for a few beats to fire 1-2 combinations with the dexterity of a natural righty. The fighting senator then hopped around the ring to practice footwork drills and firing combinations after Roach excused him from hitting the punching bag, saying his power was already sufficient 

If Roach were concerned about the 27-year-old Las Vegas resident Vargas, he was doing a top-notch job at hiding it.

“He’s explosive, he’s really punching well, we’ve had a really good training camp,” said Roach, who trained Pacquiao in the Philippines for a month as he performed double duty as a legislator. “Manny’s always liked a full plate, we had a full plate for this fight for sure. I expect him to perform really well.”

(READ: Pacquiao vs Vargas pits ‘young lion’ against living legend)

Roach, as he’s wont to do, said he expects Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 knockouts) to stop the tough and engaging Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) and end his 7-year knockout drought, but allowed that it was up to Pacquiao to put it together.

“I do think that he’ll knock this guy out but we won’t go out there looking for a knockout. If it comes, it comes,” said Roach. “If you’re looking for a knockout you’ll never get it. He’ll hit him with a hard shot, say I’m sorry and then [Vargas] will be on the floor. I can’t wait.”

Justin Fortune, Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach, believes Vargas’ aggression will play into Pacquiao’s hands, allowing him to pick his opportunity against a target coming into range.

“There’s no dog in Vargas. He’ll fight. That’s to his credit, he’s not gonna run away, he’s not gonna do like [Chris] Algieri,” said Fortune.

“When [Pacquiao] puts his mind to it, he can finish 90% of the guys out there. The thing is that Jessie will come to you, and that’s probably what will hurt Jessie more than anything, is that he’s a fighter who won’t actually take a backwards step.”

Roach feels, at least outwardly, that Vargas will change his tactics once he feels Pacquiao’s power.

“They say he’s gonna come to us, that’ll be his downfall I feel if he does do that. I think he might feel Manny’s power and get on the bike a little bit but we’ll see what kind of balls this kid has,” said Roach.

Pacquiao is expected to hit the pads once more with Roach on Wednesday after the final press conference where he comes face to face with Vargas. Roach seemed to psyche himself up for a press-con clash with Vargas’ trainer, former cruiserweight boxer turned K-1 kickboxer Dewey Cooper before thinking better of what his fighter has taught him over the past 15 years together.

“He don’t like shit talking, especially from me. That’s why at the last few press cons I’m never talking too much shit because he doesn’t like that, I want to keep him in a good mood, keep him happy. He’s a very respectful guy. He’ll never talk shit,” said Roach.

“I like when they talk it because I know he hears it. That’s a plus for him. But for me I have to be careful where I go with that. I don’t want to offend my fighter before a fight. I have to be a better person than that. He’s made me a little bit better person.” –

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