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Freddie Roach says focus now on Clottey, believes mega-fight will happen someday

Pacquiao’s trainer says fighter will arrive in Los Angeles on Monday to begin preparations for Joshua Clottey

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Steve Marcus

Manny Pacquiao listens to advice from trainer Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California on March 31, 2009.

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Boxing fans hanging on to the hope that a mega-fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. could still happen on the originally scheduled date of March 13 at the MGM Grand are wasting their time, according to Pacquiao's head trainer, Freddie Roach.

Roach, who has worked with Pacquiao since 2001, said at this point there is no hope that the fight with Mayweather could still work on that date and that his fighter's focus has shifted to Ghanaian fighter Joshua Clottey.

"I don't think there's any hope, the deadline for HBO is past," Roach told the Las Vegas Sun today. "Manny is going to fight Clottey on March 13 and we're just going to move on."

Nearly every detail of the proposed mega-fight between the top two pound-for-pound fighters in the world had been hammered out except for the method of drug testing.

Negotiations hit a stalemate in December when Mayweather demanded that Pacquiao undergo Olympic-style drug testing that included random blood tests. The Nevada State Athletic Commission traditionally requires fighters to undergo random urine tests, not blood tests.

When Pacquaio refused, both sides attempted a final effort to save the fight last week, meeting with a mediator, retired judge Daniel Weinstein, in Santa Monica, Calif.

When Mayweather again refused to agree to the terms set by the mediator Wednesday night, Roach says the Pacquiao camp knew the fight was dead.

"I definitely thought this fight would happen when Manny beat Miguel (Cotto, in November)," Roach said. "Floyd had made his comeback and looked really good against (Juan Manuel) Marquez. He had a tune-up fight under his belt and he's a talented guy. I was looking forward to the challenge.

"But as we got close to the fight we could see Floyd pulling away. Bottom line is he just doesn't want to fight."

Despite comments made by Mayweather on Thursday that he still wanted to fight Pacquiao, the Filipino's camp immediately went into making other arrangements.

It had been initially rumored when the Mayweather talks began to fall through that Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, was looking at either Paulie Malignaggi or Yuri Foreman as potential opponents for Pacquiao.

Roach said Saturday tha the decision to move to Clottey (35-3, 20 KO) was based on the fact the trainer wants to see his fighter in exciting fights, something he didn't feel would happen against either Malignaggi or Foreman.

"I wanted an action fight, I don't want Manny in a boring fight," Roach said. "With Paulie it would be a blowout. Let's face it, he's not in the same class as Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather. Yuri Foreman is a good fighter, he's clever, but he's boring.

"I wanted Manny in an action fight and that's what we got with Clottey."

According to Roach, Pacquiao still will arrive at his Los Angeles gym on Monday to begin preparations — the same schedule the fighter was going to follow for the Mayweather fight.

Pacquiao's representatives are expected to meet with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones today about hosting the fight with Clottey at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Although Roach says the camp has shifted its focus to Clottey, Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 KO) remains disappointed that the fight with Mayweather (40-0, 25 KO) was derailed.

"He wants to fight the best fighters out there and Floyd is definitely one of them," Roach said. "I had been studying his style and coming up with a game plan and we were mentally getting ready for that fight. It's disappointing because the whole world wants to see that fight and it would have been good for boxing because boxing needs that.

"But we can't force people to fight each other. He has all the excuses in the world and that's just what it is."

Roach also added that if Pacquiao defeats Clottey, they would look to the winner of a fight between Shane Mosley and Andre Berto as their next opponent. That fight is scheduled for Jan. 30 in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao won't meet Mayweather in the ring March 13, but he might see him in court.

The Filipino filed a defamation lawsuit against Mayweather and his camp based on allegations they had made that Pacquiao used illegal, performance-enhancing drugs to help him successfully go up in weight classes in recent years.

When asked if the lawsuit was legitimate or more for publicity value, Roach said Pacquiao's anger toward the Mayweather camp is 100 percent real.

"He's really angry about it — the thing is all of a sudden these guys think they are drug experts," Roach said. "My fighter has never tested positive for any illegal substance, not even cough medicine or anything like that. I have trouble giving him vitamins and protein shakes.

"Look at his moods; he's always smiling. Steroids usually don't let you do that. Why can't people just realize he's a good fighter? All the greats — Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard — went up in weight because that's where the competition is. I know that Manny Pacquiao is clean for a fact. I'm with him every day in training camp and I know him very well. He would never do something like that."

While Roach says there's no shot that the mega-fight will still happen in March, he said he does believe Pacquiao and Mayweather will fight eventually.

In addition to a matchup the world wants to see, the fight was expected to be the richest in boxing history, with each fighter making as much as $50 million.

"I do think it will happen eventually," Roach said. "I don't think that either one of them has many other options out there if they want to keep fighting the big fights. And if Mayweather keeps gambling and living the lifestyle he does, he's going to need money again."

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected]. Also follow him on twitter: LVSunFighting.

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