Roach: "If UFC takes over, it'll only be our own fault"

By Lyle Fitzsimmons | CBSSports.com

Into every Freddie Roach interview, a little “Money” must fall.

Though the agenda for a Tuesday chat with the Boxing Writers Association of America's six-time trainer of the year in no way included the non-Filipino half of the generation's most-discussed non-fight, it was inevitable Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s name would still come up at some point.

And predictably, Pacquiao's resident cornerman/confidant was his old candid self when it did.

The now 54-year-old's assessment of a match between the pound-for-pound elitists – who've won 12 world titles in seven weight classes between them, including five at the same weight – was no shock.

He thinks the other guy is good. But he's sure his man is better.

“It's a fight that I would look forward to getting Manny ready for,” he said, “because Floyd's a very talented guy and he's good at what he does, but I think Manny's a little bit faster and the southpaw stance would give Mayweather problems.”

Both Pacquiao and Mayweather have other business to tend to in the meantime, of course, with the former challenging Timothy Bradley for the World Boxing Organization's welterweight title on April 12, and the latter risking his World Boxing Council championship in the same weight class against World Boxing Association belt-holder Marcos Maidana on May 3.

But even if both men are victorious – Pacquiao is a near 2-to-1 favorite, while Mayweather is viewed as a more prohibitive double-digit proposition – the odds that they'll ever actually get together in the same ring are long enough to make a default optimist like Roach sound, at best, doubtful.

“The fight we really want is Mayweather,” he said.

“But the thing is we just can't get him to the table. With Al Haymon and Golden Boy and Showtime on one side, and Bob Arum and HBO being on the other, it's making that very difficult to make.”

And while fans of either fighter are quick to theorize why the other contestant refuses to engage, Roach sees the lingering promotional “Cold War” as both the real obstacle blocking the super fight in the short term, and the potential cause for the entire sport's recession down the road.

If Golden Boy and Top Rank continue to eschew working together and making their athletes available for dual-promoted events, he said, opportunities for all parties will wither.

“Our pool is getting a little bit smaller because the two companies are against each other, and it won't be long before they have to cross the line. If they don't do that, they will ruin the sport,” he said. “Somebody's going to have to give on that and let these guys fight each other and the best fight the best.

“Otherwise, it's just going to be the same guys fighting each other all the time.”

Pacquiao's fight with Bradley is his second in less than two years, following a controversial 12-round loss in June 2012. Six months after the first Bradley fight, he met Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth time and was knocked out in six rounds.

If Pacquiao beats Bradley in the rematch, his promoter, Bob Arum, has said a fifth fight with Marquez is something he'd “love” to put together.

Mayweather, meanwhile, beat Saul Alvarez in a record-setting pay-per-view event last September, and Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza said recently that a rematch between those two could make sense as well, if Alvarez puts together an impressive enough winning streak.

Clearly, those options would not be the first on Roach's list.

“(Pacquiao and Mayweather) both kind of need each other,” he said. “Both in history will go down as great fighters of course, but then at the end everyone will say ‘Why didn't they fight each other?' They'll be an asterisk or a question mark behind their names. For the sport, they really need to.

“The promotions aren't getting along right now, but Don King and Arum didn't get along that well either, and they made great fights. That's what we need. We need those big, big fights. We need the best fighting the best. Otherwise, if UFC takes over, it'll only be our own fault because we have the better talent and we have the better shows. But we just need them to fight each other.

“Otherwise, MMA will take over and it'll be the biggest combat sport in the world.”

Weekend Watch List
Fox Sports 1 – Thursday, 10 p.m. ET
Luis Ortiz vs. Monte Barrett -- 10 rounds, heavyweights
Gerald Washington vs. Skipp Scott -- 10 rounds, heavyweights
Dominic Breazeale vs. Nagy Aguilera -- eight rounds, heavyweights

NBC Sports Network – Friday, 10 p.m. ET
Amir Mansour vs. Steve Cunningham – 10 rounds, heavyweights
Curtis Stevens vs. Tureano Johnson – 10 rounds, middleweights

Telemundo – Friday, 11:35 p.m. ET
Joebert Alvarez vs. Julian Rivera – 12 rounds, flyweights

UniMas – Saturday, 11 p.m. ET
Giovani Segura vs. Felipe Salguero – 10 rounds, flyweights

 
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