Freddie Roach Is Walking A Fine Line Between Chicken And Smart With Manny Pacquiao Opponent Weight Demands

freddie_roach_weight.jpgCan’t make my mind up about this.

You may have seen recently that Freddie Roach said the following about lining up his prized possession, pound-for-pound king and junior welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, with welterweight Miguel Cotto: “I spoke with Bob and I told him I want it at 143 pounds,” he said, referring to Pacquiao and Cotto promoter Bob Arum. “The lower I can get him (Cotto), the better.” Meanwhile, Cotto’s nutritionist has said the lowest Cotto can go without jeopardizing his health is 144 pounds. Roach has made similar demands of Shane Mosley, who’d initially said he couldn’t get below 147, but now is willing to come down further to get a shot at Pacquiao.
Here’s my question: Is Roach being a chicken, or is he just being smart?
The Chicken Case: How many times have we criticized other fighters — lately, we’ve picked on Floyd Mayweather — for insisting on weight advantages in a fight? And how much different is it, really, for Roach to insist on Cotto moving down in weight than Mayweather insisting Juan Manuel Marquez move up in weight? Isn’t a weight advantage a weight advantage? Would anyone be that impressed if Pacquiao knocked out a weight-drained Cotto? That would take some of the shine off that victory, the way it took some shine off Pacquiao’s defeat of Oscar De La Hoya at welterweight. Roach, to his credit, has candidly admitted he’ll be seeking every physical advantage he can for Pacquiao. But c’mon. A fair fight is a fair fight. If Roach doesn’t think Pacquiao can compete against full-blown welters, man up and have him fight on even terms with junior welterweights. Or, really, even a more reasonable catchweight — like, say, the one Cotto’s nutritionist thinks he can make — wouldn’t be so underhanded. It would be far easier for Pacquiao to come up one pound than it would be to force Cotto to massacre his body for that extra pound. Hamstringing opponents at welterweight comes across as a little cowardly.
The Smart Case: Rarely if ever has Roach incorrectly sized up Pacquiao and what he’s capable of. Right now, Roach is convinced that a Pacquiao-Cotto fight goes the distance and will be very hard for Pacquiao. It may sound strange to those of us who think if Pacquiao can knock out a big junior welterweight like Ricky Hatton with shocking ease, he shouldn’t have a much worse chance of doing the same to a shaky-chinned welterweight, but Cotto, Roach insists, is a different animal. Sure, Pacquiao knocked out De La Hoya with practically no difficulty at welterweight, but De La Hoya was old and weight-drained. So if Roach is worried that Cotto is too big, he just might be right. The problem is, all the bigger-money fights for Pacquiao at this moment are at welter. And, certainly, Pacquiao has earned the right to call the shots. He’s the biggest attraction in the sport right now, and when that’s the case, you get to set the terms. Besides, there’s a little bit of a courage difference in starting smaller and asking someone to move down versus starting bigger and asking someone else to move up.
I don’t suppose this is an either/or proposition. I’d be most interested in everyone else’s take on this.

What do you think of Freddie Roach trying to force welterweights to move down a bunch to fight Manny Pacquiao?(polls)

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.