FREDDIE ROACH knows a thing or two about big fights.
Having spent decades in the sport the hall of fame trainer best known for leading Manny Pacquiao’s corner for the biggest bouts of the Filipino icon’s career.
Roach is sought out frequently for his opinion on the sport’s leading topics and this week there is none bigger than Errol Spence Jr vs Terence Crawford.
The two welterweights collide at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night. A fight that will crown who is the best at 147lbs and possibly the number one boxer in the world. Naoya Inoue made a strong case for that position with his stunning win against Stephen Fulton in Japan yesterday.
Roach will be putting his expertise to good use on the Spence-Crawford undercard. The 63-year-old trains Giovanni Cabrera who faces Isaac Cruz in a lightweight title eliminator. Afterwards one of the biggest fights of the year will follow and Roach gave his thoughts on the main event.
“I have wanted to see this fight for a long time, and I can tell Spence and Crawford have wanted it too, which is another reason I have wanted to see this fight,” Roach said. “They want to know, and prove, which one is the best. It will be a close fight. While on paper, it has the look of Leonard-Hearns, I think it could end up being better.”
In a fight viewed as a genuine 50-50 the legendary trainer admitted who he believes has the advantage.
“In my mind, Crawford is the best fighter in the game and has been for several years. In this fight, I give the edge to Crawford because he is the more complete fighter. I am so impressed by his strategy and well-balanced style of fighting. I can tell he thinks out the game plan thoroughly well in advance of facing each opponent by the way he warms up in the dressing room. He is not just warming up; he is working on his game plan. Every punch in that dressing room is a piece of his strategy.
“Inside the ring, he executes his game plan flawlessly. By the end of round two, Crawford has figured out his opponent. I can see it. After that, Crawford is close to invincible. I have never seen any fighter switch from orthodox to southpaw so seamlessly. And that is just one part of his arsenal.”
Roach is very familiar with Spence having analysed him prior to his scheduled fight with Manny Pacquiao in August 2021. Keith Thurman eventually stepped into replace the Texan who suffered a retinal tear that forced him out of the bout.
“I am also impressed with Spence,” Roach said. “He has a perfect record against a stronger roster of opposition than Crawford. Experience is a great teacher. I studied a lot of tape on him when Manny was training to fight him. Spence is strong and aggressive, and in my opinion a better puncher than Crawford. Manny and I knew he was going to be a tough fight.
“Having said that, I believe Crawford’s is the better boxer and that’s why I give him the edge. But this should be a great fight, one boxing needs and fans deserve.”