by Nick Giongco
Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach has accepted Manny Pacquiao’s decision to replace him as lead trainer as the eight-division champion gets ready to win the world welterweight crown on July 15 in Malaysia.
“Manny and I had a great run for 15 years – longer than most marriages and certainly a rarity for boxing. I wouldn’t trade any of it. Inside the boxing ring and the political ring, I wish Manny nothing but the best,” Roach said in statement released to the media yesterday.
Roach and Pacquiao began their relationship in mid-2001 when the Filipino made a rousing US debut.
The 58-year-old Roach was in Pacquiao’s corner except for a couple of times early in their partnership when he fought in the Philippines in 2002 against Thai Fabbrakob Rakkiatgym in Davao and 2003 versus Kazakh Serikzhan Yeshmagambetov and the Boston-bred former fighter expressed a bit of sadness over the stunning decision.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t hurt that he didn’t contact me personally about his decision, but the great times we enjoyed together far outweigh that,” said Roach, who was in Pacquiao’s corner 32 times, including 28 in the US, twice in Macau and once each in Manila and Australia.
Pacquiao, 39, challenges Argentine puncher Lucas Matthysse at the 15,000-capacity Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur.
Under Roach, Pacquiao scored the biggest wins of his illustrious career and his victories over Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez made him an all-time great.
Tapped to take charge of the training are longtime friend and Roach understudy Buboy Fernandez.
Assisting him in the cornerwork are brother Roger Fernandez and Nonoy Neri.
After the two-city promotional tour that kicks off in Manila on Wednesday and capped by an appearance in Kuala Lumpur, Pacquiao will begin the pre-conditioning phase of the training camp.
Arriving in Manila to drumbeat the Malaysia card dubbed “Fight of Champions” are Matthysse and his promoter, the legendary Oscar De La Hoya.
They are expected to arrive on Wednesday.