Roach and DeJesus go at it
Story & photos by Chris Cozzone
As the boxing cliché goes, styles make fights.
On Saturday night, we’ll find out if that applies to trainers.
On paper it’s a mismatch. Freddie Roach, who pilots Manny Pacquiao, is, arguably the world’s best-known, best-paid trainer. Backed by a star-studded resume, Roach would be a 10-to-1 favorite over the experienced, albeit much lesser known Lenny DeJesus, chief trainer for Joshua Clottey, if the match-up made the betting lines.
“I’ve been around a long time,” DeJesus told reporters today at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas. “I’ve been through it all.”
While DeJesus might not have Roach’s resume of manning the corner at top-level megafights, he goes back 40 years in the prizefight biz working corners as a cutman for former greats like Wilfredo Benetiz, Roberto Duran and Hector Camacho.
Just because he has taken the quiet approach, says DeJesus, that doesn’t make him the lesser cornerman. DeJesus’ quiet career is on par with maintaining a quiet corner.
“It’s not about yelling at the fighter,” he says. “You didn’t see Angelo Dundee yell and shout in the corner. The cheers, the hollers, aren’t going to matter. What you need is to be good and quiet.”
What DeJesus needs, besides a chaos-free corner, is for Clottey to remain calm, collective – and to listen.
“If he listens to me,” says DeJesus, “he will win.
“If he doesn’t, he’ll lose a decision.”
DeJesus, a former cutman for Pacquiao, is convinced that Clottey’s size and strength will make the difference – to a point.
“Whoever wants it most will win,” says DeJesus. “That’s going to come into play. But Clottey won’t be a target for Pacquiao. We have a plan for the bigger guy to beat the smaller guy.”
Enter Freddie Roach.
Roach has more than a plan – he’s got several plans, all depending on what Clottey shows up Saturday night.
“Clottey does the same thing, over and over and over again,” says Roach. “He’s a good fighter. We know he’s a dangerous fighter. But we’re not re-inventing the wheel here. There are two scenarios here.
“He’ll either try to impose his size and strength on Manny – which is what I would do – or he’ll go to the ropes and try to counter while wearing Manny out.
“Well, that’s not gonna happen. Manny will not tire. He’ll get the openings and hit the body. And if Clottey comes forward, he’ll start reaching because Manny won’t be there. He’ll use lateral movement and angles rather than stand right in front of him.”
Roach foresees a stoppage – not a knockdown knockout – but a win by TKO.
“I don’t know if we can knock him out, or down, but I know Manny can stop him. He has a good chin.”
As for Clottey’s trainer, Roach says he thought it was “weird” when he heard DeJesus was given the position.
“He’s been around the game, but does he know boxing as a trainer? I don’t know. We was Manny’s cutman for several fights, but we got rid of him when we got rid of Murad Muhammad, our former promoter.
“He’s also only had six weeks with Clottey – and that is not enough time to develop a rapport, or really get to know your fighter.”