WELL, good things never really last.
It pained the great trainer Freddie Roach to part ways with long-time fighter Manny Pacquiao after a 16-year run that has become one of the most successful partnerships in boxing history.
Although saddened by the way things ended between him and the 39-year-old Pacquiao, who won seven world titles in as many divisions fighting under Roach since 2001, the Hall of Fame trainer would rather look back at the bright side of their working relationship together.
Roach said Pacquiao hasn’t personally talked to him about his decision not to have him man his corner when he challenges champion Lucas Matthyse for the World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight title on July 15 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t hurt that he didn’t contact me personally about his decision,” said Roach in an official statement released on Saturday. “But the great times we enjoyed together far outweigh that.”
In a press release sent by Pacquiao’s camp on Friday detailing Matthyse’s and promoter Oscar Dela Hoya’s arrival in Manila as part of the two-country press tour for their July fight, it noted that ‘Pacquiao will be joined by his new promotions team along with trainers Restituto ‘Buboy’ Fernandez and Raides ‘Nonoy’ Neri.’
A walk-in at the Wild Card gym in Hollywood, California as he was about to make his US debut after agreeing on short notice to a shot at Lehlo Ledwaba’s International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-bantamweight title as a replacement fighter, Pacquiao made a quick impression on Roach when they did the mitts, noting the hand speed and power of the Filipino southpaw from General Santos City.
Pacquiao, then still handled by the late Rod Nazario, was already a former world champion, although still a raw fighter who mostly relied on his power and quickness.
The now senator went on and demolished Ledwaba inside six rounds in a stunning upset that would be the first step in his march to greatness.
He successfully defended his title four times before getting a major break in his career after destroying Mexican star Marco Antonio Barrera in an 11th round TKO win of a non-title fight at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas back in 2003.
Pacquiao would win six world titles after that and was hailed Fighter of the Decade in 2010.
As ‘The Pacman’ rose on top of the boxing world, so did Roach, who won all his Trainer of the Year awards with Pacquiao by his side.
And these are the things Roach would rather remember as he looks back on his journey with one of the greatest fighters he ever handled.
“Manny and I had a great run for 15 years – longer than most marriages and certainly, a rarity for boxing,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade any of it.”
But obviously, Pacquiao’s best days are over.
He’s 2-2 in his last four fights, and lost his last one against Australian Jeff Horn in a controversial 12-round unanimous decision to yield his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight crown.
Following the loss to Horn, Roach admitted retirement could be an option for Pacquiao, who he said, seemed to be more occupied by his job in the Senate than his work as a boxer.
“I’m going to watch the tape and talk to Manny about it,” said Roach after the loss to Horn. “We will have a discussion about that, yes. Being a senator, and being a fighter, it’s really hard.
“He likes this better than the other one. For me, looking in, I can see he’s liking this job now. He’s a lot busier in this job than he was before. Now he’s a senator…maybe it is over,” said the legendary trainer.
“It’s a difficult decision, but it might be one he has to make.”
Roach has not heard from Pacquiao since then, and only learned he’ll no longer call the shots in his corner against Matthyse through the press release from the camp of the boxing champ.
Still, Roach has nothing but the best interest of his former boxer, both in his career as a fighter and politician.
“Inside the boxing ring and the political ring, I wish Manny nothing but the best,” he stressed.