ARLINGTON, Texas -- Freddie Roach has a game plan to make life in the ring easier for Manny Pacquiao. If Roach had his way, it would be in place tonight when Pacquiao moves up in weight once again to take on Antonio Margarito. The problem is Roach will never get Pacquiao to follow it.
"He could box more and be a little smarter," said Roach, who trains boxing's biggest star. "But he likes to exchange punches and that's what sells tickets. That's what makes him exciting, and that's what makes him who he is."
Pacquiao doesn't figure to change his style against Margarito, even though other things have changed since he last stepped into the ring at Cowboys Stadium in March. An explosive puncher at any weight, Pacquiao will fight in his usual frenzied fury as he tries to win an eighth title against a bigger but slower opponent.
Once again, he will carry the weight of an entire country on his shoulders in the scheduled 12-round bout. But this time he will do so both as the biggest sports hero the Philippines has ever seen and as the congressman representing Sarangani Province in his native land.
The unique fighter-politician combination got him a crossover spot on "60 Minutes," an appearance on National Public Radio, and a lot of exposure in places fighters never get mentioned. It also has caused a lot of consternation among his fans, who worry that the duties of a congressman may have gotten in the way of Pacquiao's training for the fight.
Not to worry, Pacquiao says. When it comes time to fight, he will fight.
"The focus is always there," Pacquiao said. "I'm always hungry for a fight. There is no distraction."
Pacquiao, who began fighting at 107 pounds, plans to enter the ring at his heaviest ever to take on the rugged Margarito, who is attempting to rebound from a hand-wrapping scandal that almost cost him his career. But Pacquiao will still be the much smaller fighter, giving up both weight and height in a fight that is for a 154-pound title even though the contract weight is 150 pounds.
Margarito weighed in at the 150-pound limit Friday, while Pacquiao was a surprisingly light 144.6.