Freddie Roach Is on the Ropes but Will Always Be a Great Champion

Andrew DoddsCorrespondent IIDecember 18, 2012

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 17:  (L-R) Trainer Freddie Roach and boxer Manny Pacquiao share a few words during the Manny Pacquiao v Juan Manuel Marquez - Press Conference at Beverly Hills Hotel on September 17, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Firstly, the following article should be prefaced by the comment that coaches are usually given too much recognition for their athlete's success and far too much criticism for their shortcomings.

Freddie Roach has won Trainer of the Year five times (2003, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010). This year, the favored contenders for the award are Virgil Hunter (Andre Ward) and Roberto Garcia (Brandon Rios, Marcos Maidana, Nonito Donaire).

However, Roach's present standing in the boxing profession is more dire than the prospects of not again winning his profession's most illustrious recognition; this might be the darkest hour of his illustrious training career.

Manny Pacquiao success helped make Roach, bringing the trainer into the limelight. The Filipino star has now lost two consecutive fights and failed to record a knockout win since 2009. Moreover, his staunch fanbase has become weary of the congressman's inability to make a superfight with pound-for-pound king, Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Amir Khan has walked out of Wild Card Boxing Gym after losing two consecutive fights with Roach at the helm. This is a success story gone sour. Roach had been credited with saving the Olympic silver medalist's career and returning him to championship glory. Khan won in his first bout sans Roach with his new trainer, the aforementioned Virgil Hunter. (Hunter is a former charge of Roach.)

After steadily showing promise and improvement under Roach (albeit against mediocre and safely calculated competition) Julio Chavez, Jr. lost the WBC middleweight title to Sergio Martinez in September. Chavez's first loss was a bitter one. The son of an icon looked good only in the final round, and the loss damaged his already fragile reputation.

This leaves Roach without a marquee champion.

Jorge Linares also lost his title shot in 2012. The battle for the WBC lightweight title did not go the Wild Card way when he faced Antonio DeMarco. Linares lost two in a row with Roach and then changed trainers. He won his first post-Roach bout with Teiken Boxing trainer, Sendai Tanaka.

The prospect of other high level fighters reaching out to Roach is unlikely. Previous attempts to enlist Roach have resulted in much-publicized failures. Oscar De La Hoya brought in Roach to prepare him for his 2007 bout with Mayweather. De La Hoya lost, and he and Roach became embroiled in an acrimonious feud.

Bernard Hopkins, despite losing with Roach in his corner to Joe Calzaghe, declared Roach to be the greatest trainer in the world. That was in 2010. It remains a compliment of immeasurable worth as Hopkins is one of the most brilliant boxing minds of all time.

The hope for continued glory for Roach and for a successful rebound in 2013 lie in the capable and dynamic hands of Peter Quillin. The recently crowned WBO Middleweight champion is quickly making waves and winning fans. He is on his way to mainstream recognition and is heading towards becoming a headline name.

People may debate how important a figure Freddie Roach would have been had Pacquiao not launched the former pugilist towards his immense success as a trainer. It is difficult to imagine that Roach could manage to become a universally revered trainer without actually being a great trainer.



As a fighter, he was famous for never quitting and always exuding an indomitable spirit. Expect this trait to manifest in the future as he returns to glory as a trainer. For now, changes are undeniably required. A continued downward spiral might unravel his well-deserved reputation. But, possibly his most meaningful legacy, will be as a real-life example of inspiration.

The HBO reality show On Freddie Roach provided an intriguing insight into life inside the famed Wild Card Boxing Gym. The program showed the impact of Parkinson's on Roach's daily life and the personal struggles he endures to keep the gym going and his family and fighters cared for.

His is an inspirational tale, and he is a laudable ambassador for those facing perceived disabilities. It also showed that working with Roach, as exemplified by Roach's relationship with Wild Card manager Marie Spivey, is not always a rewarding endeavor.

His message of perseverance in overcoming obstacles supersedes any sporting accomplishment. The iconic trainer's health should be paramount, and it is obvious his hectic schedule is taxing on his constitution. One might also speculate that the formula for future success is training fewer fighters and focusing more on his health and working with a limited roster.

Regardless of his future, what he has achieved in the ring, as a boxer and as a trainer, has proven him worthy of a place in Canastota. More importantly, outside the ring—as a loving family member and is a living example of the infinite power of human will—he will demonstrate his greatest legacy. This particular accolade, his message of determination, of smashing negative stereotypes about people dealing with disabilities, triumphs over any losing streak.