Manny Pacquiao hasn’t been a power puncher as welterweight. In 18 fights above 140 pounds, he has only three knockouts in 14 victories.
The Filipino icon’s pop played a role in his most-recent fight, though. He put Keith Thurman down in the opening round to set the tone for that bout and went on to win a split decision and a 147-pound title in July 2019.
And his longtime trainer, Freddie Roach, believes his protégé’s power could play a role in his pay-per-view challenge of beltholder Errol Spence Jr. on Aug. 21 in Las Vegas.
“I told Manny that knocking down Keith Thurman early gave him a lot of momentum in that fight, and I’d like to see that again in this fight,” Roach said Wednesday. “He knows that he has to use his speed to do that. He understands completely what I want.”
Roach said Pacquiao also has shown in sparring that he can still land big shots, which is a good sign for him.
“He had probably his best sparring yesterday (Tuesday),” he said. “We went 10 rounds and he got two knockdowns. It was the old Manny Pacquiao from 10 years ago.
“He’s not as big of a puncher usually at welterweight, but those knockdowns yesterday were a great boost for him.”
That said, Roach and Co. recognize that Spence, a big, strong welterweight, can hurt any opponent.
Thus, a mistake could cost Pacquiao dearly, as it did when he was stopped by one punch from rival Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012. Roach has emphasized in training the necessity for Pacquiao to continually move.
“Spence is a good boxer, but he’s a very good puncher,” Roach said. “We know that when we get inside, we have to be smart getting back outside. It has to be quick combinations and then out right away.”
So how does Roach think the fight will play out? In Pacquiao’s favor.
“I think Manny is going to outbox Spence,” he said. “His footspeed is unbelievable and much better than his opponent’s. Spence follows you around and is heavy on his feet. He seems very set to the ground.
“Manny’s speed will overwhelm him. I’m really happy with the game plan so far.”
This article was originally published on boxingjunkie.usatoday.com