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'Manny is ready to fight even today' - Roach

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Five-time ‘trainer of the year’ Freddie Roach and strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza both refused to be drawn into demands that Juan Manuel Marquez, who is challenging Manny Pacquiao for his World Boxing Organization welterweight crown, be subjected to drug test as an offshoot of the Mexican’s hiring a former alleged drug dealer as member of his coaching staff.

A week before the much-awaited Chapter III of the world’s two great fighters, Roach reiterated his pronouncement the Filipino eight-division champion is fit and well-prepared for his November 12 (November 13 in Manila) encounter with the world lightweight kingpin at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

“Manny is ready to fight even today and no amount of bad news would distract him from doing what has to be done comes fight night. Not even that that says Marquez is on drugs that would put Manny at disadvantage,” Roach said Saturday (Sunday in Manila) after Pacquiao’s training session at the Wild Card Gym which he owns in Los Angeles.

“This comes more as a distraction to Manny. But Manny has gone from so many distractions in his previous fights and in this. I don’t think he would mind it. We don’t really mind it,” he told this writer in an overseas telephone interview.

“A lot of people want to point fingers and say Marquez is doing bad things and that he should undergo drug test before the fight. But I won’t do that because I’ve been tired of that being done to me, to Manny, especially.”

Roach was obviously referring to repeated demands of undefeated American Floyd Mayweather Jr. for Pacquiao to undergo Olympic-type drug testing that aborted twice attempts to pit them in what is expected a multimillion- dollar super fight.

“It looks like he’s working hard, like Manny, and that’s what both of them are supposed to do in this game,” the 51-year-old trainer said. “They both want to give boxing fans their money’s worth by giving them a good fight. They’ll do just that.”

“As for Manny, well, I have been saying this since we arrived here in L.A. that he’s been very much prepared to win and win convincingly,” Roach stressed. “What we’ve done here has been merely to maintain his condition, make adjustments in some aspects of training and strategy.

“We’ve done all that. My guy works hard and that’s why he gets good results. All Manny’s got to do is climb the ring on Saturday and show everybody the results of hard work. Never mind what our rivals have been doing. We are not concerned with that,” he assured.

“We have a mission here. And that’s not only to win but to prove that it was Manny who was robbed of his victory in their first meeting and that his win in the second was no fluke,” Roach said, adding that Team Pacquiao will be leaving Monday evening or Tuesday morning in time for the “Grand Arrival” ceremonies slated Wednesday.

Suspicion about Marquez’s indulgence in drugs surfaced because of his association with Angel Hernandez (AKA Angelr Heredia), who used to work for controversial Balco founder Victor Conte.

Marquez and Hernandez both denied the accusation with the latter, even threatening to sue Ariza for libel.
This because days earlie
r, Ariza commented about Marquez’s bloating so big, insinuating that Hernandez’s drug dealing involvement has got something to do with it.

Like Roach, Ariza dismissed the idea of asking that the Mexican “Dinamita” be drug tested, saying Marquez getting so big might backfire on his bid to dethrone Pacquiao and erase all doubts about his claims that he won their first two fights.

By Eddie G. Alinea




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