DALLAS – Manny Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach questioned his fighter's dedication to boxing in recent weeks following a training camp that was more chaotic than usual, he told Reuters on Tuesday (Wednesday, in Manila).
Filipino Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KOs), who takes on Mexico's Antonio Margarito (38-6, 27 KOs) Saturday in Cowboys Stadium in Texas for the vacant WBA super welterweight belt, is known for being heavily involved in extra-curricular activities.
The actor and singer, arguably the most famous person in the Philippines, added to an already busy schedule earlier this year when he was elected to Congress in his home country, which Roach said is a priority for Pacquiao.
"The fun stuff I don't care about, it takes his mind off the fight and then we get back to normal," said Roach, who has trained 26 other world champions including Oscar De La Hoya and Mike Tyson.
"(But Congress) is something he really cares about and he wants to be good at, so it's kind of competition really."
Roach said a particularly jarring moment came during a recent day of training when Pacquiao turned to him and said he missed his job.
"I said, 'Manny, this is your job.' And he said, 'No, I miss Congress.' Right then, I thought on Monday (Tuesday, in Manila) morning he'd be going to Congress instead of to the gym," said Roach.
However, since camp moved to Roach's Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, the trainer said: "everything has fallen into place. I was nervous in the Philippines. Now I'm 100 percent happier."
Margarito trainer Robert Garcia is not convinced there were ever any problems in the Pacquiao camp.
"Freddie Roach is the best trainer in the world. There's no way he's going to take a fighter into the ring, especially Manny Pacquiao, unless he knows he's 100 percent ready," said Garcia. "This is just the stuff Freddie says to mess with our minds or hype up the fight a little."