Naazim Richardson and Freddie Roach are no strangers to being in the corner for huge fights. Richardson has been training "Sugar" Shane Mosley since before his bout with Antonio Margarito. Richardson became one of the most talked about men in boxing in January 2009 when he called out Antonio Margarito's camp for loading his hand wraps with plaster prior to the Mosley/Margarito fight. Prior to that fight, he was most known for his time training Bernard Hopkins.
Where Richardson sits is in a difficult position. The once great Mosley is in the twilight of his career. Naazim was there when Shane appeared to revive his career with the drubbing of Margarito, but he was also there when Shane lost the lopsided decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and for the horribly disappointing draw against Sergio Mora. Now he's in a place where he has to help Mosley maximize what he has left. Richardson knows what Manny brings to the table:
Pacquiao is not a cliché fighter. Pacquiao has different variations of himself, where as though Pacquiao can box you and things aren't going his way, Pacquiao can bite down on his mouthpiece and start fighting.
If you watch Manny Pacquiao close enough, Manny Pacquiao's been hit with everything. Manny Pacquiao's been hit with different shots. The thing about Manny Pacquiao that makes him special is even when you're having success against him, he will bite down on his mouthpiece and turn it into a different kind of fight," said Richardson. "So even when you're landing uppercuts, even when you're turning him, even when you're hitting him with good shots, even when you put him on his pocket, it wouldn't surprise me to see him get off the canvas three, four times and start fighting Shane Mosley.
The list of big name fighters that Freddie Roach has worked with is lengthy, but Manny Pacquiao may be the fighter he is best remembered for cornering. He is a smart man and while most are dismissing Mosley's chances, including oddsmakers that have Paquiao at up to a -1000 favorite, Roach knows all too well the dangers of fighting Shane. Roach explains:
"He is a very dangerous fighter; he can punch. He has one-punch knockout power; he's the fastest guy we ever fought. You look at his last fight against Margarito, he looked great in that fight. People thought he was sensational in that fight. Then his next two fights, he fights runners. Bad styles, I mean, it's just matchmaking errors. It was bad matchmaking for Shane's style."
"Shane's never done well with boxers. Shane has always done well with guys who come at you," Roach continued. "Manny Pacquiao is one of those guys who will come after you at times but we have to go after Shane very scientifically with a little strategy."
"It's the cardinal sin with Shane," said Roach, who believes that his charge must work angles against Mosley. "If you walk straight into him, he'll hit you with a counter-hook and an overhand right and he has one-punch knockout power. Let's face it; he's a dangerous, dangerous guy and we're not going to get caught sleeping.
Both trainers seem well aware of what gives Mosley the best chance to win. If Manny is walking to Shane and engaging in a war it will provide openings. If Shane is forced to try to hunt Manny down, it should make for a long night for Mosley. The speed just isn't there like it used to be, but the power can still stop almost anyone.
In a battle between two of the most talented men the sport has seen over the past 15 years, it may very well be the preparation by the trainers that decides the outcome.