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THE FIGHTER FINDS PEACE
CHRIS MANNIX
June 11, 2012
He drank. He gambled. He cheated on his wife. Now, with the help of religion, Manny Pacquiao says he's a changed man. But will he be the same ruthless boxer?
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June 11, 2012

The Fighter Finds Peace

He drank. He gambled. He cheated on his wife. Now, with the help of religion, Manny Pacquiao says he's a changed man. But will he be the same ruthless boxer?

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Pacquiao's faith has insulated him from distractions, and in this camp there has been a big one: Roach and Alex Ariza, Pacquiao's strength and conditioning coach, barely speak. Roach is upset that Ariza left Pacquiao's camp in the Philippines early to work with Julio César Chávez Jr.; Roach is even more upset that Ariza tried to take another fighter they share, Amir Khan, with him. "I said, 'Who is going to train him?'" says Roach. "He tells me, 'I will.' When did he become a f------ trainer?" Pacquiao has refused to fire Ariza, instead assigning him Bible verses to study that Pacquiao believes will help Ariza through his problems with Roach. (Ariza declines to speak with reporters.)

Pacquiao says he remains committed to being a congressman in the Philippines, but friends say his political ambitions have cooled. "He doesn't talk about politics much anymore," says Roach. "I used to tell him he was going to be president someday, and he would smile. He doesn't smile when I say it now."

Roach is satisfied with Pacquiao's commitment to boxing; he sees a fighter still near the top of his game. Negotiations for a megabout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. have stalled, but Roach sees a fighter who can wait for Mayweather to come around. The trainer eased up on Pacquiao in this camp, cutting his sparring rounds and replacing his stable of sparring partners to give Pacquiao fresh looks. "He's not the same fighter he was five years ago," says Roach, "but he is still better than everyone else."

Better, or just more at peace? On the wall of his apartment is a portrait of Pacquiao dressed in a flashy dark suit, a cigar in his mouth and his welterweight title belt on his arm. It is one of the few reminders of a life lived in excess, of a lifestyle he can't put behind him fast enough.

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