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Roach, Mayweather Sr. in war of words

LAS VEGAS -- Respectfully. That is how junior welterweight world champion Ricky Hatton and pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao have conducted themselves toward each other during the buildup to their super fight.

Their trainers? Not so much.

While Hatton and Pacquiao, who is gunning for a world title in a record-tying sixth weight class, will meet in the main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET) in a much-anticipated showdown, Hatton's trainer, the irrepressible Floyd Mayweather Sr., and Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach sound as if they are getting ready to throw down in an undercard fight.

They even did a traditional staredown and posed together à la the main event after Wednesday's final news conference, much to the delight of the media.

Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs), who demolished former titleholder Paulie Malignaggi in a November title defense, and Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs), who sent Oscar De La Hoya into retirement with a December pummeling in a welterweight fight, are the kinds of fighters who like to let their fists do the talking inside the ring. They are confident that they will win and don't spend time before the fight making disparaging remarks about their opponents.

Mayweather and Roach, however, have been at each other throughout the promotion. From the kickoff news conferences in Hatton's native England to their weekly comments about each other during HBO's "24/7" series, there's been just as much talk about Roach vs. Mayweather as there has been about Hatton vs. Pacquiao.

"Freddie 'The Joke Coach' Roach. That's what I think he is. He's a joke of a coach," Mayweather said, repeating for the umpteenth time his nickname for Roach.

Although Roach is typically far more laid back than Mayweather, he has also gotten into the act.

"A lot of people ask me if I'm worried about Manny fighting Hatton since Hatton has never lost a fight at 140 pounds," Roach said. "As long as Floyd Mayweather is in Hatton's corner, I have absolutely no concerns. It's not like his brother Roger is training him. Floyd training Hatton for this fight is our biggest advantage."

With the fighters taking the high road, trainers bashing each other will have to do. They've given the media all kinds of tasty and inflammatory quotes.

Mayweather has disrespected Roach ever since De La Hoya parted ways with Mayweather to go with Roach for his fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May 2007.

"Who has he really worked with," Mayweather said of Roach. "He had a lot of big fighters, but he hasn't done anything with them. What has he done with them? He got one man in his court; it's Pacquiao. Who else do you know that he got that he's done something with? And what fighter has he made? I made my son, and who has he made? He hasn't made anybody. Explain it? That's all I can tell you, man; the guy ain't made anybody. Simple."

Roach's response?

"My first champion, Virgil Hill, I started him out from his first pro fight," Roach said of one of his numerous champions. "I mean, I've made a lot of good fighters out there. He made his son through birth, but Roger [Mayweather, Floyd Sr.'s brother] made him as a fighter. So, it doesn't bother me."

De La Hoya, who worked with Mayweather for several years and with Roach for one fight, said they're both good trainers, although when asked to pick one over the other, he went with Mayweather.

"Both of them will get you in tip-top shape," said De La Hoya, whose company, Golden Boy, promotes Hatton and is co-promoting the fight with Top Rank. "They'll train you, they'll make you run many miles, they'll make sure you're in the best shape of your life for that fight. The difference with Freddie and Mayweather is, I think, Mayweather is more technically sound when it comes to using different combinations with the mitt work. Freddie, he'll have you throw combinations, but it's a repeated combination over and over and over. The strategy really isn't 100 percent.

"I love Freddie Roach to death, I really do. Nothing personal to him, but from my experience, Floyd really had me at the top of my game."

When the promoters put Roach and Mayweather on a recent teleconference with the media to discuss the fight, they knew what they were doing. They knew they would get a lot of jawing back and forth between them, and they were right.

When one reporter asked who the better fighter was, since both boxed professionally before becoming trainers, Mayweather spoke up quickly.

"I most definitely was the better fighter than Freddie Roach. As a matter of fact, I've got a poster down at the gym where Freddie's on my undercard," Mayweather said.

Said Roach, "Well, you know what, I tried really hard. I fought on TV a lot more than him. I was a lot more popular than him."

Then they got into it.

Mayweather: "You were a bum."

Roach: "You know, his brother [Roger] was a great fighter, but he lost to my fighter Marlon Starling twice. He got his ass kicked twice. So, how good was he? He was OK."

Mayweather: "You weren't OK. You were a bum."

Roach: "So you think."

Mayweather: "You got whopped so much, Freddie. Come on, Freddie."

Roach: "You're the expert. Hey, Floyd, can I ask you a question?"

Mayweather: "Yes, sir."

Roach: "When I get presented the [2008] trainer of the year award [in June], I want you to present that to me this year because that's as close as you'll get to it."

Mayweather: "We're gonna see about that, Freddie. We'll see about that."

Roach: "I'd like for you to do that."

Mayweather: "And what are you going to do when I win it, Freddie?"

Roach: "I've won it three times. You've never won it. You're not going to win it ever."

While Roach seems genuinely peeved by Mayweather's putdowns, Mayweather seems to have a bit of a glint in his eye when he talks smack.

"It's not animosity, man," Mayweather said. "I'm having fun, whether you believe it or not. I'm having fun with this. I'm not afraid of Freddie at all or anything. I'm having fun with this.

"This is a build-up. That's all it is, man, to me. Everybody wants their fighter to win. But with me it's talking. Even if you look back with [Muhammad] Ali when he was doing his thing, everything is a build-up, man. Some guys get in each other's faces and never get out of each other's. But this is something with me. I'm having fun with this. I mean, I'm looking to win the fight and I'm sincere about winning the fight but as far as me, the animosity and the bad talk, I don't have nothing against Freddie right now. When this fight's over, me and Freddie can still shake hands and hug and you know. I don't have nothing against Freddie. I really think Freddie's a nice guy, but right now, this is warfare and I'm looking forward to my man winning, and I'm gonna do whatever it takes for him to win."

Roach made fun of Mayweather's stint in jail. Mayweather mocked Roach for being manhandled once in a sparring session by Roger Mayweather. The trainers have praised the other man's fighter, just not each other.

"I think Manny's a very good fighter," Mayweather said. "I think he can be a much better fighter, though, under different circumstances. But Manny's a very good fighter. I can't take anything away from Manny. I can think of a lot more things he can do that's he's not doing. So, you'll have to take that up with his trainer."

Real or manufactured, the Roach-Mayweather battle is good for the promotion, according to De La Hoya.

"It's huge. It's priceless because you're not going to get Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao talking bad about each other," De La Hoya said. "You're going to get some great action inside the ring, but people have to know about the fight, and we can do that through Floyd Sr. and Freddie Roach. Apparently, it's become a Floyd Sr.-Freddie Roach circus, but at the end of Saturday night, we'll see the bear and lion going inside the ring and duke it out."

But Saturday night isn't here just yet, so the trainers are still battling:

Mayweather: "My man's ready, and I know Freddie 'The Joke Coach' Roach is scared right now."

Roach: "Oh, he is?"

Mayweather: "And he's probably going to go crawl up in some hole somewhere."

Roach: "Enough with this dueling, man. It's old."

Mayweather: "It's the truth, man. You the Roach. … You see me come [Saturday] so we can fight. You understand me?"

Roach: "You want me come get me? You know where I live."

Mayweather: "I've got you, Freddie."

On and on it goes.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.