MACAU - Manny Pacquiao was gloved up and warming in the ring for his training session Tuesday as the crowd of writers around trainer Freddie Roach dwindled to a couple of stragglers. Roach already had filled the notepads with provocative quotes knocking Chris Algieri, the opponent for Pacquiao's WBO welterweight title Saturday night at the Venetian Macao.
But Roach had one more bombshell to unload and decided to let it drop.
"Manny told me, 'One round,' " Roach said. "He's never done that. He won't repeat it, but that's what he said: 'One round.' "
Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs) has gone five years since his last stoppage in the 12th round against Miguel Cotto. Although Pacquiao has recovered from being knocked cold two years ago by Juan Manuel Marquez to regain his title, he's fighting the perception that he is in decline approaching his 36th birthday next month.
But some see Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) as a KO waiting to happen because he is taking a huge step up in class to fight Pacquiao, who insisted on a catchweight of 144, three pounds below the welterweight limit. "He wants to prove to everyone that he can still punch," Roach said. "That's why he went to the catchweight at 144. He's never been a puncher at 147. He's only knocked out two welterweights. That's why the drop in weight. We feel good at '44."
So, there absolutely is no question Pacquiao is intent on coming out fast and going for a quick knockout.
"I do think it's going to be early," Roach agreed.
Pacquiao has refrained from making public predictions and has been far more restrained in his commentary than Roach, but it's fair to assume the trainer speaks for him.
"That's Freddie's opinion," Pacquiao said of his trainer's persistent criticism of Algieri as a relative lightweight. "For me, I don't want to boast that I'm that good. The power that I have, the talent that I have is from God, so why should I boast about my talent?"
Now that the fight is just days away, however, Pacquiao is responding to pressure on him to produce a KO that restores faith that he is as great a champion as ever. Asked by one countryman if he's aware how much the "Filipino people long for a knockout," Pacquiao laughed and said, "Not only Filipino people but all the fans around the world. Even me.
"I'm not predicting for a knockout, but I'm looking for a good fight and to prove I can still fight."
The elephant in the room is the prospect of Pacquiao finally landing a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. if he dispatches Algieri in short order. Roach said a knockout would restore the luster of that long-deferred fight, but Pacquiao remains wary of Mayweather despite negotiations that already have laid the groundwork for it finally to take place.
"He might not fight me if he will see a good performance," Pacquiao joked. Referring to Mayweather's on-again, off-again signals, he added, "Mayweather is sometimes good 'Weather,' sometimes bad 'Weather.' Sometimes, it's rainy days, and sometimes, it's sunny days."
But first things first. Pacquiao knows he can't afford to look bad against Algieri. He said the training camp for this fight started early and was "more intense" than previous camps. Roach said the fact Pacquiao hasn't shown his power in recent fights prompted him to emphasize work on the heavy bag to bring it out against Algieri.
The Long Island fighter's confident predictions that he's going to take down a legend clearly have stirred something inside the mild-mannered Pacquiao.
"He's a boy," Pacquiao said. "He's very confident.
"He never had a big fight; he never lost in his career; he's undefeated, so, he's always confident. But when he experiences a loss, he will see. He will feel that."
Asked what concerns him most about Algieri, Pacquiao shrugged and said, "I'm not worried. I'm not concerned."
Roach recently took pains to point out that, while Algieri is undefeated in boxing and claims an undefeated record as a kickboxer, he actually was knocked out eight years ago in an MMA-style combat bout that doesn't count on his kickboxing record.
"They keep saying they're undefeated in both sports, but he's not," Roach said. "He's lying. It's on tape. In today's life, you can't hide nothing."
Roach certainly hasn't hidden his feelings about Algieri's over-the-top confidence.
"Never in my life have I seen anything like it," Roach said. "Not against a man like Manny Pacquiao, who has won eight world titles.
"Algieri thinks he's fast, but he doesn't know how fast Manny is until he gets in the ring. He's going to be overwhelmed with Manny's speed. He's in way over his head.
"He's confident, but once that bell rings, this is not a 'Rocky' movie. Trust me. Rocky's going to get knocked out."