By Rudy Mondragon
Every time I visit California, I always make my way to two gyms: Wild Card Gym and Robert Garcia Boxing Academy. I didn’t have much luck with Robert’s gym, as my schedule was crazy and the gym closed before I could make it up. I was able to check out Freddie Roach’s gym, which made for an insightful day.
I called the gym before I made the commute to be sure that Freddie was there and that they Wild Card Gym t-shirts in stock. I was told that Freddie’s presences was not certain, but was assured the gym had plenty of t-shirts. One out of two is not bad. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in the gym and saw Freddie behind the welcome desk.
Busy day at Wild Card Gym
Freddie and The State of Washington
I walked up to Freddie and greeted the legendary trainer. He was in a great mood and was more than willing to talk. I told him I was visiting from Seattle, Washington and he was quick to share that he once fought in Lynnwood. I then mentioned that Greg Haugen is recognized as one of the most famous boxers of the state of Washington, having once fought the great Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. He looked at me and laughed. “I know him,” Freddie said. “He knocked me out once.” We both laughed and continued our conversation.
I asked him about Miguel Cotto and his thoughts on his upcoming fight. He said Cotto was walking around in a healthy weight and highly motivated for his upcoming fight against Sergio Martinez. Freddie shared that Cotto was out of it mentally in his loss to Austin Trout. That was the last fight Cotto had with Cuban trainer, Pedro Diaz. Cotto then seeked the services of Freddie Roach. I shared that Cotto looked great in his first fight with him, but in all honesty, Delvin Rodriguez was no competition. He was simply a stepping stone and body bag for Cotto to punch out. Roach flipped the script on me and stated that he guided Miguel Cotto to take on an awkward fighter and make easy work of him. To make easy work of an awkward fighter is no easy task, let alone doing it in TKO fashion in 3 rounds.
Great confidence in his ability as a trainer, no doubt. I was curious to hear his thoughts on where Cotto goes after his fight with Sergio Martinez. Roach smiled and said that with a win, a rematch with Floyd Mayweather is definitely possible. Miguel has shared with Roach that he feels he would have beat Floyd had he come in better shape. I agreed to an extentm as I thought Miguel did a great job imposing his size and using his jab to draw blood on Money May. With Freddie in his corner, a rematch would not only be exciting, but competitive as well.
I switched up the conversation from Miguel Cotto to Amir Khan. Lately, I have been letting people know that Amir is not the new Victor Ortiz. The guy has heart, passion, skill, speed, technique, and gives fans an exciting show every time he steps in the ring. He does not quit, therefore he is no Victor. He does, however, have a “glass chin”. You can’t train for that. You either have it or you don’t. I shared that with Roach and he agreed. I also asked him what he thought about the lies Amir shared about sparring and taking Andre Ward and Alfredo Angulo’s punches. He laughed and said, “Manny Pacquiao dropped him twice in sparring.” Amir “Glass Chin” Khan has been exposed. Damn.
Manny Pacquiao Contract
This last piece of information is deep. It is information that will suck for those who want to see Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather. There have been rumors of Manny Pacquiao having resigned from Top Rank. The truth, according to Roach, is that Manny has not signed anything. There is, however, a deal on the table. Roach didn’t share details of that new contract. But think of the possibilities of that deal. If Top Rank and HBO hook up, they can offer Manny Paquiao a deal that tops Floyd’s deal with Showtime. If Manny resigns, the only way he can fight Floyd is if Top Rank allows him to be a free agent to pursue a fight with Floyd. Roach said that Pacquiao can’t run for President for another couple of years, which means that Manny will need to keep fighting to remain in the public eye. Remaining in the spotlight is what politicians do. Boxing will be Manny’s platform to gain further support for his political endeavors. I just hope his boxing ability does not fade any further. That would be a horrible way to go out of the game.
Last Moment at Wild Card
I decided to stay a bit longer, as I found out that Manny Pacquiao was scheduled to train at 1pm. I chilled and made friends with other fans who came as far as Texas to see Manny. An hour passed and it was close to 2pm and still no Manny. I decided to grab a snack at the convenience store on the other side of Wild Card. I walked over and saw all of Manny’s team inside a Thai restaurant. Buboy Fernandez was there, as well as Manny’s brother and auntie. Michael Koncz was there too. He passed by me while on the phone, probably negotiating a new deal for Manny that would benefit his pockets first and foremost.
Still no Manny. I walked back to the parking lot close to the entrance of the gym. Marie Spivey (Freddie’s X and Gym Manager?) was there, ordering different fighters around in preparation for Manny’s arrival. Media was there waiting. I saw Roger “Speedy” Gonzalez and started talking to him. We talked about his fight against Andrew Cancio and being intentional about his diet. As a result, making weight has been easy for him. For those who don’t know, Speedy is known for having fought Yuriorkis Gamboa and Jhonny Gonzalez.
All of a sudden, Marie asked me if I was media. I let her know, “yeah, I represent an independent blog called Blood Money Boxing.” She then let me know that I could not be there since I was not invited, and that I would have to leave. I didn’t argue with her, I simply asked her if I could stay since I had come down all the way from Seattle. She made an exception and suggested I stay inside the gym and stay out of the invited media’s way.
I was grateful and stayed out of their way. I chilled inside the gym and began conversations with other fighters. Big mistake. Next thing I know, the door to the downstairs private gym closed and I was told Manny Pacquiao had entered the building.
An unfortunate moment, but a great learning opportunity to not leave my post! What was also revealing was the magnitude of attention Manny Pacquiao commands. Everyone working at Wild Card was on deck and ready to receive Manny. Everyone that had nothing to do with the gym or Manny was kicked out (except me fortunately). Not in a bad way, but the reality is that Manny attracts vast numbers of fans from all over the world. These types of measures are needed when the king enters his workspace.
*Stay tuned for more stories about my day at the Wild Card Gym*