Freddie Roach, the longtime trainer of eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao, admits that his fighter's upcoming opponent was not his first choice.
Pacquiao will challenge WBC, IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence on August 21 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Spence has every possible advantage with four inches in height, five inches in reach, and he's eleven years younger than the 42-year-old future Hall of Famer.
Roach was leaning more in the direction of former four division champion Mikey Garcia.
“He wasn’t my first choice,” Roach said of Spence to Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports. “I was leaning toward Mikey Garcia, because he challenged us several times and so forth. When Manny picked Spence, I said, ‘Congratulations, you picked the best guy out there.’”
Pacquiao has been inactive since July of 2019, when he won a twelve round split decision over Keith Thurman to capture the WBA welterweight title.
In one of the riskiest fights of his career, Pacquiao agreed to a catch-weight of 150-pounds to fight, and beat, Antonio Margarito for the WBC junior middleweight title.
Because of the size difference with Spence, Roach explains that he plans to make Pacquiao take a similar approach to how they handled Margarito.
“Manny was in and out, in and out, and when he does that, his opponent doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going,” Roach said.
“When he breaks in with a combination, he can’t sit in the pocket. If he sits in the pocket, he’ll get hit back and this guy is a good puncher. He’s got to get in, hit and get out right away.
“And you can’t just go straight right in on him. You have to use an angle. Manny’s been doing that quite a bit and footwork is the key to winning this fight. Manny’s footwork is better than anyone’s. He’s on his toes and he can do it for 12 rounds.”