MANILA, Philippines – The spotlight may be on the boxers when Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez face off for the fourth time on December 8, but in the background, their respective trainers will wage their own battle.
|Mexican boxer Juan Manuel Marquez with his trainer, Ignacio "Nacho" Beristain. Photo from Reuters.
Freddie Roach and Ignacio "Nacho" Beristain, both Hall-of-Fame trainers, will both be working their hardest behind the scenes to get their fighters prepared.
"It's going to be challenging for me. It definitely is. It's a little bit of a contest between me and Nacho," Roach said in an interview with RingTV.
Roach and Pacquiao officially hold an advantage of Beristain and Marquez. Pacquiao has defeated Marquez twice in the scorecards, while the two fighters battled to a draw in their first meeting in 2004.
But Marquez is convinced that he won all three battles, and indeed, the Mexican legend has given Pacquiao more trouble than any other opponent. With his counter-punching and footwork, Marquez has found more success in neutralizing Pacquiao than any other boxer.
Roach admitted that it will be a battle of wits between him and Beristain as both trainers have to come up with a winning game plan.
"He (Beristain) wants to be the best trainer, and I want to be the best trainer. So, the winner of that fight, the trainer will be perceived as the better trainer," Roach said. "So, it's competitive, yes, and it does get personal."
Meanwhile, Beristain said he respects and admires Roach as a trainer, especially for his courage in battling Parkinson's disease.
"Freddie Roach is a great person and a great human being,” Beristain told RingTV. "And yes, it will be a great challenge for me to go against him again as a trainer, when Marquez fights Manny Pacquiao again."
But like his fighter, Beristain remains convinced that they won the first three fights.
"I respect Freddie Roach. He's a great trainer, but we've shown them three times already that we can beat him, and that we did beat Manny Pacquiao," Beristain said.
Roach said he has yet to come up with a new game plan for Marquez, especially as their tactics in the first three fights were neutralized.
"I haven't come up with a good idea yet of what I need to do to make him win that fight, but I'm thinking and thinking every day as I watch tapes of his opponent," Roach said. "We will come up with an answer."
"Me and Manny will have to sit down together and watch the fight and come up with a game plan together... We need to work together on this," he added.
Beristain seemed unconcerned about Roach and Pacquiao’s fight plan, however.
"I don't think that there can be much of a difference in what they can do," he said. "We will show that again when we fight on December 8."