BY: Dan Gabel
A few weeks ago, I was a fly on the wall for a discussion about boxing trainers. I observed a few opinions as I listened in. Floyd Mayweather Sr. seemed to get high praise for his strategic work with Oscar and now Ricky Hatton.
His brother Roger for his tutelage of the once and potentially future champion, Floyd Jr. Nazim Richardson also got positive marks helping both Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley to recent upset victories over Kelly Pavlik and Antonio Margarito respectively.
Hell, even Enzo Calzaghe received a few comments for his “unconventional, yet somehow effective” efforts in helping shape his son into a World Champion.
Given such laudatory praise (especially for the eccentric Calzaghe) I was more than a little surprised I didn’t hear anything of note about Manny Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach. I don’t think many appreciate the work the Roach does for the pound-for-pound king.
I have always believed it’s not the collective skill, knowledge, and ability that make a good pairing between trainer and fighter, but rather the compliment of their talent and personalities. In this regard, Roach and Manny seem to be a perfect match for each other.
Freddie Roach’s simple and unassuming nature meshes well with the sometimes mercurial and unpredictable Pacquiao. He acts as father figure and confidant guiding Manny, rather than a task master constantly pushing and motivating.
In the early to mid ‘90s, trainer Teddy Atlas received much attention for his motivational work with former heavyweight champion Michael Moorer. He is noted for having pushed, pulled, cajoled, and berated Moorer...basically dragging him kicking and screaming...into a world title.
However, a guy like Atlas wouldn’t fit with Manny.
I’m thinking Atlas wouldn’t tolerate Manny’s massive traveling circus of an entourage, probably clash with the sometimes headstrong fighter, and most likely end up “motivating” the pound-for-pound king right out of camp, on to a chartered flight (for his massive entourage), and right back to the Philippines.
The job Freddie Roach does for Manny is in many ways like the job Joe Torre was asked to do for the Yankees for many years. Torre was not asked to take a team take a “rag-tag” bunch of players and shape them into perennial playoff contenders.
Instead, he was given a roster brimming with marquee players, and then asked to channel this talent to produce winning seasons and World Series Titles. He was asked to manage personalities.
Similarly, Freddie Roach was been given possibly the most naturally gifted and most explosive force in all of boxing. His job is to give Manny just enough structure, just enough boundaries, in order to channel his energies to focus on the task at hand.
In many instances, it is the toughest of tasks to be handed a transcendent talent which carries with it the pressures and responsibilities of expectation. Freddie Roach carries that responsibility everyday with him as he trains Manny for Ricky Hatton. If he wins, give the man his due.
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