Best scenario for Manny Pacquiao

SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson

Boxing trainer Freddie Roach’s chief assistant Marvin Somodio recently talked about how Manny Pacquiao might want to end his storybook ring career. I visited Marvin at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles and asked if WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn could beat a well-prepared Pacquiao in a rematch.

“No chance,” said Somodio without hesitation. “Manny can still fight at a high level. But as a fighter gets older, he has to do more preparation, work harder. He has to know when to train, when to rest. With Manny, it’s difficult to focus only on boxing because he’s a Senator who takes his job seriously to help our people. He works in the Senate during the day then trains at night. There is little time to rest and recover. He went to Australia a week before the fight. Manny used to go to the US three weeks before a fight. When he fought Horn, I thought it would end in the ninth round. Horn was badly hurt. But Manny got tired. It was the first time I saw Manny not able to knock out an opponent who was ready to go.”

Somodio said referee Mark Nelson had no business allowing Horn to get away with dirty tactics. “The referee gave Horn a big advantage,” he said. “He should’ve stopped Horn from elbowing, butting and doing those things in the early rounds but didn’t so the momentum of the fight went to him. I think if the referee did what he was supposed to do, Manny would’ve won without question.”

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Somodio said the best scenario for Pacquiao would be to regain the WBO crown from Horn then face Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in a rematch for the ages. “Nobody wants Manny to be a stepping stone for young fighters who want to make a name for themselves at his expense,” he said. “At this stage, he should think of how to end his career.”

A match against Conor McGregor is out of the question because it wouldn’t do anything to enhance Pacquiao’s legacy. “Mayweather’s fight against McGregor was one-sided,” said Somodio. “McGregor took some early rounds because Mayweather gave them away to make it interesting. There’s a big difference between boxing and mixed martial arts. The pace of the action is different. Mixed martial arts fighters are no match for boxers in a boxing bout. Of course, boxers would be no match for mixed martial arts fighters in a mixed martial arts bout.”

Somodio said Roach was excited to be in Georges St. Pierre’s corner for the Canadian’s third round disposal of Michael Bisping in a UFC battle at Madison Square Garden in New York City last month. It was the first time Roach was in the corner of a fighter for a mixed martial arts contest. “Six weeks before the fight, Freddie worked three days in L. A. and three days in Canada with Georges every week,” he said. Roach was St. Pierre’s striking coach. Another mixed martial arts fighter whom Roach trains is 21-year-old featherweight Aaron Pico.

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At Wild Card, Somodio said Roach is busy working with WBA superfeatherweight champion Alberto Machado of Puerto Rico, WBA cruiserweight titlist Denis Lebedev of Russia and three unbeaten future kings Anthony Sims, Jose Ramirez and Eimantas Stanionis. Sims, 22, is a 6-1 lightheavyweight with a 14-0 record, including 13 KOs. 

Ramirez, 25, is a superlightweight with a 21-0 record, including 16 KOs. Stanionis, 23, is a Lithuanian welterweight with a 4-0 record, including 3 KOs. Another star in the Wild Card stable is 29-year-old English featherweight Scott Quigg whose record is 34-1-2, with 25 KOs. 

Somodio, whose wife Melissa is expecting their second child, a boy, in a few weeks, has now lived in Los Angeles working with Roach for five years. He receives no monthly salary but earns more than enough from his share of fighters’ purses in bouts that Roach assigns. Somodio has travelled to Russia, China, Mexico, Puerto Rico and a slew of cities in the US for boxing. The only Pacquiao fight where he worked the corner with Roach was against Brandon Rios in Macau in 2013.

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