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Talkin’ Boxing With Freddie Roach

 

By Scoop Malinowski

Freddie Roach graciously sat down and talked boxing with me yesterday at the Callum Walsh New York City boxing debut press conference at Legends Bar & Grill on West 33rd Street in New York City. Walsh, 8-0, 7 knockouts, is Roach’s latest protege and will fight Ismael Villareal in the main event at Madison Square Garden on Thursday November 9.

Scoop Malinowski: What impresses you the most about Callum Walsh?

Freddie Roach:  His work ethic. The way he comes to the gym every day. And he’s always anxious. His first day in the gym was sparring day. And I said, Well, since you’re here, you have to spar for me today. He said, It’s my first day…  I said, You’re ready. And so he sparred the first day. He did great.

SM:  You’ve worked with, witnessed and been associated with a lot of great champions.  Who does Callum remind you of?

FR:  Steve Collins a little bit (Former WBO Middleweight and Super Middleweight champion). Because they’re from the same area. Stevie (Celtic Warrior) Collins won the (WBO Middleweight KO Chris Pyatt 1994 in Sheffield, England) title in his hometown but (Callum) wasn’t born yet. He has a lot of potential. I compare him to Steve Collins a lot. Really, really hard workers.

SM:  Does he watched videos of Steve Collins?

FR:  No.

SM:  Does he watch boxing? He just told me he doesn’t like to watch it.

FR:  He doesn’t watch his opponents. That’s my job [smiles]. I come up with the gameplan. I lead him along the way and he’s happy with that.

SM:  Other boxers told me they didn’t watch boxing either, Pernell Whitaker was like that. Do you boxers who didn’t watch it?

FR:  Not very many. I kind of like that. It gives me more to do in my job and fine tune him in the areas he needs to excel in.

SM:  Which of your guys didn’t like to watch fights? Pacquiao? Toney?

FR:  Manny liked to watch fights. James Toney – forget about it… “All you bag beaters, get the fuck out of the gym!” He was like, “Everybody out of the gym.” He called them all “bag beaters.” He was crazy. That’s how he was. He didn’t watch tape on anybody.

SM: Nobody? He’d just go in there and solve the puzzle?

FR: Yep.

SM: Do you think he was one of the greatest of all time, at his best?

FR: I do. He’s one of the world’s greatest fighters. He’d just naturally go in there, figure his opponent out and pick them apart. A great boxer.

SM:  If Toney had the freakish discipline and diet nutrition strictness of Hopkins and Pacquiao, what do you think would have happened?

FR:  We’d be calling him the greatest fighter today. He was a great fighter. But if he put his heart into it, with his abilities, he would have been the best.

SM:  What is your favorite Manny Pacquiao performance?

FR:  The best performance? The first day in the gym he sparred. He was in the ring one round and we signed a contract that day. We worked very well together. His best fight I think was the one with Ledwaba (IBF 122 on Lewis vs Tyson undercard 2002). We had four weeks to train for that fight. Everybody was ducking that guy. Nobody wanted to fight him. But Pacquiao said, “I got it, no problem.”

SM:  What would you say was the greatest moment of your career?

FR:  I’m not sure. I fought hard. I trained hard. I fought for the title a couple of times (ESPN Super Feather in 1983 vs. Louis Burke and 1984 vs. Tommy Cordova; WBC Continetal Americas Lightweight title in 1986 vs. Darryl Tyson). Being in title fights. Being a part of that. It was fun and so forth. I just was a little bit under… I wasn’t good enough to become a world champion. Bobby Chacon was my best fight (1985 in Sacramento, CA). I knocked him down twice in the fight. I thought I was going to get the decision. But they didn’t count those knockdowns I guess [smiles].

Callum Walsh vs Ismael Villareal boxing card on Nov. 8 will be contested in The Theater at Madison Square Garden and will be broadcast globally on UFC Fight Pass.

 

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