PRO MMA caught up with world class boxing trainer, Freddie Roach, at the Affliction: Day of Reckoning press conference.
While the hard training sessions may be over, Roach still keeps a watchful eye over Andrei Arlovski heading into Saturday’s WAMMA Heavyweight Title fight.
Roach discussed the possibility of Arlovski making a move to the boxing world, the challenges of breaking down MMA bouts as a boxing trainer and the man who possesses the best boxing skills in MMA.
PRO MMA: Freddie, thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
ROACH: It’s my pleasure
PRO MMA: Now that the press conferences and hard training sessions are over, as a trainer what is your role right now with Andrei?
ROACH: Just keeping everything calm, reinforcing the game plan, talking to him and keeping him positive. Just relaxing. All the hard work is done right now and there is nothing else we can do. We just got to perform in the fight.
PRO MMA: How far has Andrei come along with his boxing skills since he started training with you?
ROACH: A long way. He has really done well. He boxes with some of my best pros, some world class fighters. I’d like to challenge the Russian champion of the world (Nikolay Valuev) after we knock Fedor out. I’d like to go right to boxing and fight for the world title there. His boxing ability is that good.
PRO MMA: How soon could Andrei make that jump? Contractually, would he be able to do that right away?
ROACH: No, we could do it right away with Golden Boy being involved. Of course, with their partnership…it would be much more acceptable. I think the best MMA fighter in the world…fighting one of the best world champion boxers…it would be a huge success. Everyone would love to see that. I believe Andrei could win the fight. Like I say, I would never put my fighter in a fight that he couldn’t win.
PRO MMA: In Andrei’s immediate fight with Fedor, as a boxing trainer, are there any challenges breaking down a MMA fighter as opposed to a boxer?
ROACH: Yeah, of course. I’m not quite as good, but I am getting better. There are certain adjustments that we have to make with the kicks, the shooting and the ground game. I ask Andrei, ‘In this situation, if I do this? What do you do?’ Its not always what a traditional boxer would do, of course. I’m learning about the ground game, I know there is a science to it…I don’t know it that well, yet. The thing is…on the stand up game we make adjustments for the distance and the leg work, Fedor doesn’t shoot that much. He’ll tackle you after he hits you a couple of times. There are certain things that we worked on and certain things that we really didn’t have to. I’ve watched Fedor’s last twenty fights, I am tired of watching Fedor. He is very good, his ground game is excellent but I think we are superior in the boxing area. That is where we have to win the fight.
PRO MMA: It seems with Andrei training with you, it seems that more and more MMA fighters are seeing the importance of traditional boxing training. Have you seen more of an influx of mixed martial artists coming to your gym?
ROACH: (laughs) Yeah, I trained Anderson Silva this morning. Anderson is a part of my camp now and he wants to learn more about the boxing game and his hands. He is a great kicker. I’ve trained Penn before and some really good guys. I love it when guys want to improve themselves and make themselves better fighters. A good fight is a good fight. I don’t care if you call it boxing or MMA. A good fight is a good fight. A boring fight is a bad one. Manny Pacquiao is on top of the world in boxing right now and he is exciting. People like excitement. Like what (Josh Barnett) said today, ‘You’ve got to leave the audience happy and hungry for more.’ That is true, that is why we have to put the best fights on.
PRO MMA: Besides Andrei, who has the best boxing skills in MMA that you have seen?
ROACH: So far, Penn is the best striker. Real nice guy, I wish him luck in his fight. I know he has a tough one coming up with St. Pierre. That is one that I will watch because he is a good friend of mine. I don’t really have time to watch TV. I work twelve hours a day in my gym because I have a lot of fighters. Penn is a great striker. Andrei is the best boxer so far. As far as striking wise…Penn, he is talented.
PRO MMA: Thank you, for your time Freddie.
ROACH: You’re welcome. Thank you
By: Matt De La Rosa