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Pacquiao fighting first time in 17 years without Freddie Roach in his corner


PhilBoxing.com




The first and only eight-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao is set to climb the squared ring for the first time since 2001 on Saturday, May 14 (Sunday, May 15 in Manila) without his longtime trainer Freddie Roach in his corner.

Instead, boxing fans from around the world will see Pacquiao’s childhood friend and Roach’s assistant trainer Restituto “Buboy” Fernandez manning Pacquiao’s corner along with former heavyweight boxing challenger and now strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune.

Pacquiao, who lost in a controversial decision to Australian challenger Jeff Horn last year, is set to collide with Lucas Matthysse of Argentina at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. At stake in the 12-round title fight is Matthysse’s WBA Welterweight belt which he is defending for the first time on Saturday.

Pacquiao claimed right after signing the contract to face Matthysse in the ring that he was the underdog in the championship title match. However, as the training by both fighters progressed, boxing as well as a good number of sportswriters have examined the strength and weaknesses of both fighters and now they have installed Pacquiao a 2-1 favorite to grab the 147-pound title.

Roach, a multi-awarded trainer of the year by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA), has been temporarily sidelined as Pacquiao’s trainer following the fighting senator’s loss to Jeff Horn in Brisbane last year.

Seemingly, Pacquiao did not like Roach’s statement suggesting that he should now consider retiring. Pacquiao thinks he trained hard for the Horn fight and believes he actually won the fight based on scoring by legitimate sources including stats from Compubox.

Roach reportedly told Pacquiao that multi-tasking isn’t good for him if he wants to stay longer in the sport with his advancing age. Roach was referring to Pacquiao’s work as senator, actor, and businessman, among others.

Without consulting Roach, Pacquiao designated Fernandez as his head trainer for the Matthysse fight and retained Fortune as his strength and conditioning coach. He also brought into the training camp Nonito Donaire’s father Nonito Sr. and Ed de la Vega, among others.

Roach status as head trainer isn’t clear at this time. Pacquiao said he hasn’t fired Roach but admitted that he hasn’t talked to him since the Horn fight last year. He greeted Roach through a mutual friend and expressed his appreciation for their partnership.

Roach likewise admitted that he and Pacquiao are still friends and hopes that they will reconnect after the Matthysse fight. To prove his friendship, Roach said he is willing to train Pacquiao for free if he is asked to do so.

Meanwhile, Fernandez said he has done everything there is to do in his first major coaching job. He is confident Pacquiao will emerge victorious despite criticisms that the fighting senator has slowed down because of his advancing age.

Fernandez claims that Pacquaio’s speed and power have been restored following rigid physical conditioning and training. He assured fans that they will see a different Pacquiao in the ring on Saturday night.

Photo (L-R): Buboy Fernandez, Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach in huddle during a previous engagement.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Leo Reyes.


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