by Nick Giongco
LOS ANGELES – Juan Manuel Marquez has a shelf life that is about to expire.
This is the belief of Manny Pacquiao, who told a handful Manila-based scribes on Saturday that Dec. 8 will be that date.
“May expiration date,” said Pacquiao.
Pacquiao let loose that peppery quote after somebody told him that this could very well be Marquez’s final chance at exacting payback after being denied three times dating back to 2004 when they were still a pair of gangling featherweights.
Exactly a week before he steps into the ring at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Pacquiao gave Roach a million and one reason to enjoy the weekend without worrying about the Filipino’s demeanor in the final days leading to the fight.
“He’s ready to go,” Roach said after Pacquiao wished him a great weekend as darkness descended into Hollywood on an unusually rainy but not-so-cold December night.
Roach had all the reason to be calm and collected as Pacquiao had shown to him that there’s nothing to be worried about despite the paralyzing fear that Marquez had sowed thanks to the recent episode of HBO 24/7 that showed him as close to being invincible.
Still, Roach is upbeat that Pacquiao is finally going to close the chapter on Marquez next week with an emphatic victory.
Although the 52-year-old Hall of Fame trainer wants a convincing knockout, Roach will be happy to see Pacquiao win on points as long as it is a dominating performance.
But nothing would make Roach feel so special other than seeing Marquez getting kayoed or watching him being rescued by the referee.
And based on what Roach has seen the past six weeks, the possibility of that taking place is high.
“Manny hasn’t scored a knockdown in sparring since the (Miguel) Cotto fight,” said Roach, who felt that Pacquiao has rekindled the old flame by posting a total of four knockdowns in this training camp.
Roach had promised Pacquiao that he would give him $1,000 for each knockdown and when Roach tried to hand the wad of bills, Pacquiao hardly moved and even appeared ashamed.
“He wouldn’t take it,” said Roach.
Later on, Roach summoned a visiting reporter from the Philippines on Saturday, threw a question at the jet-lagged fellow who wound up confused before realizing the renowned trainer was just horsing around.
“Have you seen my new fighter? Do you know who that guy is?” Roach said, pointing a finger towards Pacquiao.
The scribe quickly got the idea that Roach was playing a bit, obviously amused that Pacquiao has been doing very well as he gets ready for next week’s battle with Marquez.
Roach was in a good mood to chat and exchange views as though he was brought back in time almost 12 years ago when an unknown fighter from Manila showed up at the Wild Card Boxing Club for the first time armed only with a pair of sledgehammers for fists and a burning desire to rule the sport.
Pacquiao has been a revelation in this training camp, according to Roach, who is about to pull the curtains
down on the Filipino fighter’s buildup.
“He’s explosive,” said Roach.
Over in Marquez’s camp in Mexico City, the same level of confidence is felt by members of his team.
Nacho Beristain, who, like Roach, has been enshrined into the Hall of Fame, expects a war but assures everyone that Marquez will inflict the most damage.
“We’ll try to do as much damage as in the last fight…but with more force (this time),” declared Beristain.
As Marquez had said while conducting his evening plyometric exercises, “we are ready to kick some ass.”
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