Georges St-Pierre sharpens boxing skills with Freddie Roach
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Freddie Roach says there’s only one guy he’ll open his Wild Card Boxing Club for on Sundays.
It’s not Roach’s prized boxing pupil, Manny Pacquiao. It’s mixed martial arts champion Georges St-Pierre.
St-Pierre, the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champ who’s eyeing a stiff title defense against Stockton’s Nick Diaz on Oct. 29 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, took Roach up on the offer this week while he’s in town to attend Wednesday’s ESPYs ceremony.
Diaz, the Strikeforce welterweight champion, is 25-7 with 13 knockouts and eight submissions. His boxing skills were deemed legitimate enough by veteran California promoter Don Chargin to arrange for a boxing match this year against former title contender Jeff Lacy. Diaz took the St-Pierre fight instead.
‘He can throw punches, but he’s a good mix [as an MMA fighter] too -- a well-rounded guy who’s on top of his game right now,’ St-Pierre said of Diaz on Tuesday, ending his session under Roach’s watch as boxing junior-welterweight champion Amir Khan entered the gym for a workout.
Diaz is the only man standing between St-Pierre and his mission to ‘clean out’ the UFC’s welterweight division, so he can move on to the MMA fight fans so badly want, between him and middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
UFC President Dana White promised that bout after Silva defeated Vitor Belfort in February, then the UFC bought Strikeforce and a Diaz fight was deemed more attractive than trying to bridge the weight disparity between the proud Canadian St-Pierre and the gifted Silva, who has reigned as champion since 2006.
‘I don’t want to have to go up in weight so much, then come back down and hurt my fighting because of it,’ St-Pierre said. ‘I’m trying to learn from other people’s mistakes. Silva walks around at 225 [pounds] to 230. My biggest is 185-190. So it’s a situation where, ‘Is it going to be fought at a catch weight?’
‘After this [Diaz] fight, I need to reconsider my career, sit and talk with everyone. Right now, I’m only thinking about Nick Diaz.’
Silva has an Aug. 27 fight on his hands, a rematch from a disqualification loss in 2006 against Yushin Okami.
Meanwhile, St-Pierre said he’s relishing the opportunity to get five days of training with Roach, who’s also getting Khan ready for his July 23 title unification against Zab Judah and working with Lakers center Andrew Bynum while HBO films a reality series on boxing’s premier trainer.
St-Pierre (22-2) said he plans to return to Wild Card before his fight, and has asked Roach to accompany him to Montreal for some training sessions at his home base.
Diaz’s stand-up strength is being taken seriously by St-Pierre, who says he’s also intent to not let the unpredictable Stockton fighter ‘get in my head.’
‘I fight with my heart, not my head,’ St-Pierre said. ‘For me, it’s a business. I like my opponents. I need them to make money, so someone like Nick Diaz, let him do what he’s going to do. Some guys might let him get into their game. I’m not like that.’
-- Lance Pugmire