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Freddie Roach is betting on Manny Pacquiao, at least figuratively

Manny Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach is betting on him to beat Floyd Mayweather Jr., at least figuratively

If this happened in any other major sport, there’d be outrage or an investigation. Not in boxing.

Not only does Floyd Mayweather Jr. take pride in posting photos on social media of his winning bets — some in excess of $10,000 — on the NFL, NBA and college sports, Manny Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, admitted that he’s made big bets on his fighter.

“I’ve won a lot of money with Manny,” Roach said Monday.

Didn’t this get Pete Rose banned from baseball?

There are no rules preventing members of a boxer's camp from wagering on their fighter, California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer Andy Foster said, but state commissioners cannot gamble on fights.

Roach, now a seven-time Boxing Writers Assn. of America trainer of the year who has middleweight world champion Miguel Cotto and former light-welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov in his stable, said he no longer needs to engage in gambling to supplement his income.

But while discussing how bettors have flocked to gamble on Pacquiao since MGM Resorts set an opening line establishing Mayweather as the minus-240 (better than 2/1) favorite to beat Pacquiao May 2 in their fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Roach said he understands the attraction.

The line is now minus-200, according to Jay Rood, director of the MGM Resorts Race and Sports Book.

Roach said upon joining forces with Pacquiao in 2001, he realized immediately that he was working with a rare talent.

Pacquiao accepted a super-bantamweight title shot against Lehlo Ledwaba that year on short notice.

“Ledwaba was the most feared guy in the division; I know, because I had other guys who were potential opponents who were gun-shy about facing him. He was a killer,” Roach said.

But Roach was so impressed by his fighter, he rushed to the MGM Grand sports book upon arrival in Las Vegas and asked to make a big bet. It couldn’t happen, he was told. The casino wouldn’t set a line if a fighter was more than a 50/1 favorite, Roach said.

So Roach settled for boasting to veteran fight men such as Top Rank Promotions’ veteran matchmaker Bruce Trampler that Pacquiao was going to win.

Roach said he was met with looks as if insanity had set in.

“I was so confident in Manny,” Roach said. “Then, when Manny broke [Ledwaba's] nose in the first round with an uppercut, then knocked him out [in the sixth round], it was like … ‘I told you guys he was special!’ ”

Pacquiao was again an underdog in 2003 when he landed an HBO main event against Mexican warrior Marco Antonio Barrera in San Antonio.

Roach was able to bet this time.

“I parlayed the win plus the knockout. They used to allow those bets back then,” Roach said. “I bet as much as I had. It was the biggest bet I ever made.”

Pacquiao dominated the bout, breaking down Barrera with a furious onslaught of speed and power that triggered the Filipino’s rise into the sporting public’s consciousness and closed with an 11th-round stoppage.

Roach said that was the final time he bet on Pacquiao, joking his massive investment stopped casinos from the win-plus-knockout parlay.

“I stopped that,” he said.

He didn’t divulge his plans for Pacquiao-Mayweather.

As for the Mayweather challenge, Roach said he’s not bothered by the fact Pacquaio, 36, has fought more rounds (407) than the unbeaten, 38-year-old Mayweather (363) or that his fighter is more than two years removed from a devastating knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez.

Pacquiao has answered with three consecutive victories, and knocked down previously unbeaten Chris Algieri six times in a November bout in Macao.

“It’s not age, it’s the amount of punishment,” Roach said Monday, as Pacquiao's training camp for Mayweather officially started in Hollywood. “Manny got knocked out by one punch. That’s a lot less than usual [in knockouts]. He has better legs than Mayweather. Mayweather has to take a break in rounds. I don’t see Floyd moving as well as ever.

“And Manny was on his toes all 12 rounds against Algieri. [Mayweather] was a tougher fight [for us] five years ago. With age, fatigue, some guys overdo it and lose things. Manny’s legs are freakish.

“I’m excited.”

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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