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article imageFreddie Roach Playing Mind Games with Team Cotto

By Ariel A. Avenasa     Oct 23, 2009 in Sports
As Team Pacquiao winds down its last two days of training in the Philippines in preparation for their upcoming November 14 'Firepower' fight in Las Vegas, Team Cotto is being dangerously lured into mind games by veteran boxing trainer Freddie Roach.
Pound-for-pound boxing champ Manny Pacquiao’s affable trainer Freddie Roach issued a bold statement last Wednesday afternoon during their training session at Gerry Peñalosa’s boxing gym in Mandaluyong City, Philippines.
In an interview with Rene Bonsubre Jr. of Philboxing.com, Roach boldly declared, “If Cotto doesn't run, we'll knock him out in the first round.”
That’s disturbing news for Team Cotto considering that the revered trainer has been right on target with his predictions in Pacquiao’s last three fights. Roach called nine rounds or less for Pacquiao’s fights against both Diaz and De La Hoya last year while he called Pacman's fight with Ricky Hatton to end within three in May this year. And true enough, those fights remarkably ended inside or in the immediate vicinity of the rounds that Roach predicted, with both Diaz and Hatton dozing off to dreamland while De La Hoya chose to quit on his stool rather than go out on his shield but not after receiving the worst beating of his life from the supposedly smaller man.
Roach has just gotten to know Pacquiao’s strengths and weaknesses so well over the course of their last eight years’ collaboration and studies his opponents thoroughly that when these are combined with his immense knowledge of the game, he gains full confidence in calling each fight's outcome with uncanny accuracy.
But just as it is with any sport, boxing is as much mental as it is physical and being the wily veteran that he is, Coach Freddie Roach is adept at employing subtle mind games every once in a while in order to catch a glimpse of the opposition’s own mental preparations and use that insight to their advantage. With fight night a mere three weeks away and with Pacquiao’s physical condition allegedly already at the planned eighty to eighty-five percent level at this point, Roach is now tightening the noose on the competition by getting inside their heads and plant that seed of doubt. Remember the famous ‘can’t pull the trigger’ issue in the lead-up to the Pacquiao-De La Hoya Dream Match last year?
Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto pose for the cameras with Top Rank s Bob Arum during the San Francis...
Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto pose for the cameras with Top Rank's Bob Arum during the San Francisco leg of their press tour last September
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Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank however dismissed Freddie Roach’s sweeping statement. In a conference call with the media together with Team Cotto at Tampa, Florida earlier this week, Arum has this to say:
“ Anything is possible. They fight from the beginning, and anything can happen. Miguel can knock Manny out in the first round and Manny can knock Miguel out in the first round. I don’t think it’s likely and I know that Freddie is a great trainer and he is also a great psychologist. A lot of what Freddie says is to get in camp Cotto’s heads. There is nothing wrong with that. That’s boxing. No one knows what can happen. The fight could go a lot of different ways and that’s why it’s going to be a great fight.”
He should know, Arum has been around boxing long enough to have seen every little trick there is in the book. Yesterday, when pressed about his ‘first-round’ prediction Roach laughed and admitted in an article by Abac Cordero of the Philippine Star, “I was just playing around”, he was quoted as saying.
Mind games or not the truth of Freddie Roach's conviction may lie somewhere in the middle, as in literally somewhere in the middle of the scheduled twelve-round fight. In a related interview with GMANews’ Chino Trinidad earlier this week, Roach blurted out, “(Cotto) is a tough guy, he’s resilient of course. But I think we’ll bust him up. My favorite is nine, that’s where I’m going”
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