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Friday, March 12, 2010

Roach And De Jesus Get It On

While pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao and Ghana’s Joshua Clottey showed their utmost respect for one another before stepping into the ring set up right on top of the star in the center of the fantastic Dallas Cowboys Stadium, their trainers have had a go at each other, effectively picking up the rhetoric nearing fight time.

Most media believe that there’s a bigger mismatch in the corners of both fighters than the difference between the WBO welterweight champion Pacquiao and former champion Clottey, with Roach way ahead with three “Trainer of the Year” awards in his trophy room.

De Jesus of Puerto Rican descent has never really been a trainer although he’s been in the corner of some great champions as an ace cutman, including six fights of Pacquiao himself. However, Roach pointed out, rather unfairly, that they got rid of De Jesus when they got rid of former promoter Murad Muhammad when Shelly Finkel took over. What Roach didn’t mention was that Pacquiao didn’t renew Finkel’s contract and let it lapse and that Manny himself had no part in the replacement, not ouster, of De Jesus.

A low key individual unlike Roach who sometimes shows his irritation, De Jesus has quietly pointed out that he’s "been around a long time” and as he correctly stated “I’ve been through it all” including the first Pacquiao-Erik “El Terrible” Morales fight in which Manny suffered a nasty gash due to an accidental head-butt in round five and De Jesus could hardly do his job because of the panic in Pacquiao’s corner. To his credit Pacquiao went the distance and nearly pulled it off in the final round when he hurt and staggered Morales.

DeJesus has 40 years in boxing in his bank of experience and has worked the corners of some of the true greats as cutman including Roberto Duran, Wilfredo Benitez and Hector “Macho” Camacho.

An individual who is soft-spoken and likes to take a similar approach when working a fight, De Jesus was quoted by boxing writer/photographer Chris Cozzone as saying “It’s not about yelling at the fighter,” harking back to such renowned trainers as Angelo Dundee, pointing out “You didn’t see Angelo Dundee yell and shout in the corner. The cheers, the hollers, aren’t going to matter. What you need is to be good and quiet.”

What De Jesus wants is quiet in the corner and for Clottey not to be carried away but to listen because Lenny says if he does that, Clottey will win and if he doesn’t he will lose by decision. Fairly straightforward.

While he believes Clottey’s size and strength will make the difference, Pacquiao’s conditioning expert Alex Ariza told us, Clottey is surprisingly not bigger than Manny, only a little taller and the Ghana fighter will probably enjoy a ten-pound advantage over Pacquiao at fight time.

Most people including De Jesus bank on the axiom that a good big guy will beat a good little guy but promoter Bob Arum has also said prior to the Oscar De La Hoya fight where Pacquiao pulverized “The Golden Boy,” that “speed kills” and in this respect Manny is miles ahead of Clottey.

The hungrier fighter will win, is what De Jesus says. But he also indicates that Clottey won’t be a target for Pacquiao which means he is unlikely to stay on the ropes and try to get Pacquiao to wear himself out. But Roach is ready to adapt to whatever Clottey brings, indicating that he “ does the same thing, over and over and over again,” even though he concedes that Clottey “is a good fighter. We know he’s a dangerous fighter. But we’re not re-inventing the wheel here. He’ll either try to impose his size and strength on Manny – which is what I would do – or he’ll go to the ropes and try to counter while wearing Manny out.”

Roach is confident “that’s not gonna happen. Manny will not tire. He’ll get the openings and hit the body. And if Clottey comes forward, he’ll start reaching because Manny won’t be there. He’ll use lateral movement and angles rather than stand right in front of him.”

Roach and Ariza agreed with us that Pacquiao won’t knock Clottey out but that he will win by a TKO with the referee probably stepping in to stop the fight at some point. Roach was quoted by Cozzone as saying, ”I don’t know if we can knock him out, or down because he (Clottey)has a good chin. But I know Manny c an stop him.”

Taking a shot at De Jesus, Roach said he thought it was “weird” when he heard DeJesus was given the position. “He’s been around the game, but does he know boxing as a trainer? I don’t know.” We'll find out on Saturday night deep in the heart of Texas.

Author: Ronnie Nathanielsz

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