The long 17-year most durable and successful boxer-trainer partnership believed to have been ended early this year has been reunited on Christmas eve Monday (Tuesday in Manila).
Two days after disembarking the Philippines Airline fight that flew him and his team from Manila to Los Angeles on Saturday, the now 40-year-old senator met with Freddie Roach, his trainer of since 2001, at the latter’s Wild Card Boxing Gym where he is to complete the last month of his eight-week training regimen for his coming title fight with challenger Adrien Broner in January.
Unlike his previous 34 fights under Roach’s tutelage, the Hall of Fame cornerman will just be acting as consultant, this time, to former pupil Buboy Fernandez, Pacquiao’s bosom pal, who was elevated as chief trainer before his last outing against Lucas Matthysse from whom he wrested the World Boxing Association welterweight belt.
Buboy and his team, including strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune, Nonoy Neri and Roger “Haplas” Fernandez, after all, had succeeded in bringing back Pacquiao to his old murderous form in his fight against Matthysse he won via a seventh round TKO, his first since stopping, too, Miguel Cotto in 2009 gifting himself the WBO welterweight plum.
Earlier in the day, Pacquiao, who will be defending his WBA 147-pound diadem against the American title pretender, was seen doing roadwork in his favourite Griffith Park, a perilous mountainous portion of the city where he is expected to frequent as often as needed for building up his leg power.
Although the boxer-turned fighter had dispensed with observing the Holiday[ Season to concentrate on his preparation, it wasn’t immediately known even by members of his training team whether he will push through with Tuesday’s training session normally devoted to sparring.
“We may, or we may not, depende, kilala naman natin si Boss,” assist trainer Roger “Haplas” Fernandez told this writer chuckling in an overseas telephone conversation. “Wednesday na sa atin yung araw na yun, tapos na ang Pasko. Baka mag-ensayo. Sayang ang oras.”
The legendary Pacquiao-Roach tandem has actually been reunited during the LA press conference hyping the January19 bout where Pacquiao announced the reunion, paving the way, too, to his return fighting in the U.S after a two-year absence.
The split stemmed after the eight-division champ’s highly-controversial loss to Australian Jeff Horn in July 2017 when Roach advised Pacquiao to retire.
“There was some concerns Manny had in the last fight and some statements Freddie made to the media that Manny wasn’t very pleased,” Pacquiao’s former business consultant Michael Koncz was even quoted as saying then by way of explaining the decision to fire his long-time trainer.
The Pacquiao-Roach team up started when the then unknown Filipino TKOed African Lehlo Ledwaba in the sixth round on June 23, 2001 in his first fight in the US where he annexed the second of his eight-division jewel—the International Boxing Federation bantamweight crown.
From then followed 34 more fights, including classic matchups that gifted the Sarangani lawmaker the Ring Magazine featherweight title at the expense of Mexicanegend MarcAnonio Barrera;
World Boxing Council super-featherweight diadem from from another Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez, WBC lightweight crown from David Diaz; International Boxing Organization/Ring junior-welterweight title from Ricky Hatton.
World Boxing Organization welterweight hrine from Miguel Cotto; and WBC super-welterweight plum from Anonio Margarito.
Add the WBC flyweight diadem he wrested from Thai Chatchai Sasakul on December 8, 1998, years before invading the U.S. soil for a total eight weight-division harvest.
By EDDIE G. ALINEA