Manny Pacquiao, right, works with trainer Freddie Roach during a training… (Erik De Castro / Reuters )
The man who has watched boxers prepare for fights since the 1960s approached the trainer of the sport's current king and expressed some cautionary words.
"Slow him down, Freddie," veteran fight promoter Bob Arum said near the sweat-soaked ring in Hollywood.
It's there where Manny Pacquiao has returned to train under Freddie Roach for the final four weeks before his third fight against bitter rival Juan Manuel Marquez on Nov. 12 in Las Vegas.
"Slow him down," Arum repeated.
Almost from the moment the fight was announced, there have been concerns about properly pacing Pacquiao, who didn't even wait for the introductory news conference in the Philippines to start running.
Pacquiao, 32, is telling those close to him he doesn't want this fight in the hands of the judges after his prior battles with Marquez resulted in a 2004 draw and a 2008 Pacquiao victory by split-decision. The decisive score was a one-point margin.
He wants the knockout, and Roach says, "That's what we're training him for."
But there's danger in peaking too early, of working so hard in the first month-plus of training that the body inevitably fatigues in the final weeks before a fight.
"We're way ahead of where we usually are, like 75-80% of where we should be by fight night," Roach said. "We're usually around 50% right now. I have to make sure we don't overdo it."
Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 knockouts) grinned his way through being questioned about his fervent effort to get ready for the 38-year-old Marquez.
"I'm focusing on my strength and speed," Pacquiao said. "They're watching my body, so I don't become too big. I control my training, step by step, until the time comes to fight. I want to be gradual in my training."
Pacquiao's words aren't matching his actions, conditioning coach Alex Ariza says. Pacquiao and Ariza had an occasionally animated conversation in the ring last week. Ariza said he convinced Pacquiao that drills to build up strength in the feet and legs are more important at this juncture than upper-body strength training.
"He wants to be as big as he was against Miguel Cotto," Ariza said of Pacquiao's last knockout two years ago — which has been followed by three consecutive unanimous decisions versus larger opponents. "But Cotto was the equivalent of a linebacker, and Marquez is a free safety.
"I think he just wants to kill Marquez."
Pacquiao has never forgiven Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs) for not only complaining incessantly after the 2008 loss, but traveling to the Philippines to wear T-shirts saying he was robbed of victory and pleading for a third fight.
"This fight," Pacquiao said, "will be the answer to all those doubts."