Roach to lock down Wild Card for Pacquiao camp

Ryan Songalia

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Roach to lock down Wild Card for Pacquiao camp
Security will be tight where the Filipino boxer will train to ensure the game plan remains secret

MANILA, Philippines – Freddie Roach says he will lock down the Wild Card Gym to limit the distractions once Manny Pacquiao begins training for his May 2 fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. 

The legends of Pacquiao’s gym sessions in Los Angeles being swarmed by fans, reporters, and hangers-on date back to the earliest days of the Filipino boxer’s exploits in America, but Roach says a closed gym will ensure that their game plan remains secret. 

“I have security, the front gate will be closed, the back gate will be open. Members only are allowed,” Roach, the 7-time BWAA Trainer of the Year, told Rappler on Monday, March 2. 

“Media-wise, they can’t come until sparring is over and the mitts are over because those are both strategies. Nobody is gonna get my strategy unless I want them to. We’re locking down the Wild Card entirely,” he said. 

“We’re not even sure we’re letting Freddie in,” Top Rank publicist Fred Sternburg said in jest. 

Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz told Rappler that the decision to move Pacquiao’s camp from his hometown of General Santos City in Mindanao was more due to geography – training in the Philippines for fights in Asia and training in Los Angeles for fights in America – than distractions. 

(READ: Manny Pacquiao puts on game face as training camp looms)

Roach has tapped unbeaten 21-year-old prospects Kenneth Sims Jr and Rashidi Ellis to spar with the 36-year-old, 8-division champion Pacquiao. 

Mayweather will work with former 140-pound titleholder DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley, whom he once fought in 2004 and sparred with prior to his 2006 bout with Zab Judah. 

Gloves situation 

Roach believes Pacquiao will be able to wear his preferred choice of gloves – 8-ounce Cleto Reyes brand – for their fight, but isn’t entirely certain. 

Gloves were a focal point in Pacquiao’s 2005 decision loss to Erik Morales, with Pacquiao. He faulted the loss on his then promoter-Murad Muhammad agreeing to use Morales’ favored Winning Gloves, which are seen as a more protective glove, while Reyes gloves are considered more conducive to harder punching.

“They asked me what kind of gloves I want to use and I chose Reyes. So far we are wearing Reyes. Every fight that we’ve fought in Nevada we’ve used 8 ounce gloves. This one I’m not sure what happened with those negotiations, I actually forgot to ask,” said Roach.

(READ: Roach: Mayweather training with his dad is advantage for us)

Pacquiao is already in Los Angeles to begin training camp Monday, but will do so under assistants Buboy Fernandez and Marvin Somodio. Roach was given Pacquiao’s blessing to finish up preparing Chinese boxer Zou Shiming for his fight against IBF flyweight titleholder Amnat Ruenroeng on Saturday, March 7. –

Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.

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