By: Sergio L. Martinez
Part of the buildup to Marquez-Pacquiao IV, HBO featured its 24/7 boxing reality series which followed both camps closely. This series has become a staple of big fights and, intended or not, does reveal things about the fighters and the people that surround them.
With Marquez pancaking Pacquiao this past Saturday, Roach’s star pupils are 0-4 in the last four major fights. His recent woes have had an effect on the former five-time Trainer of the Year. During the reality series, Roach was queried about his recent shortcomings as a trainer.
“It’s been a tough year, yeah,” Roach said. “The thing is that I’m wondering if I’m losing my touch.”
Roach made reference of a “run” of approximately five years where he only lost a total of three fights in that span. It was a remarkable feat and makes his recent failures and fall from grace that much more prominent. This led to the trainer of the stars being fired by Amir Khan and whispers of his abilities are growing.
The question then becomes: What is different about Freddie Roach?
The likely reason was revealed on the same 24/7 series.
The show’s narrator commented, “A life like this was once just a pipedream for Freddie Roach, back when he was growing up in a working town outside of Boston.” During this narration, Roach was seen exiting his upper scale home and getting into his luxury Mercedes Benz.
Creature comforts are addicting and wanting to hold on to them can lead to a person allowing certain things they may not have been inclined to allow before.
In the case of Roach, the past five years have seen him go from living in a small place on top of his gym in a not so chic area of Hollywood, to a significantly larger home and a life full of many more amenities.
Although always soft-spoken, Roach was still considered a take-no-shit hardened individual who appeared to always be in control of his fighter’s training camps. Lately, he seems to be more concerned with keeping his cash cows happy and his training approach seems to have suffered in the process.
During the 24/7 series that featured his charge Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. preparing to face middleweight kingpin Sergio Martinez, it was embarrassingly obvious that the fighter was training the trainer. In that series, Roach had no control over Chavez Jr. and was a “girl Friday” just waiting for the phone to ring, advising him that the young Chavez had decided to train with him. Any self-respecting elite trainer would have put a stop to that but Roach took the humiliation and disrespect garnering a nice paid day in the end.
During one of the episodes of Marquez-Pacquiao IV, Roach freely admitted that he is no longer the boss of Manny Pacquiao. “I don’t get to tell him what to do anymore; he tells me what to do pretty much,” Roach commented.
Roach added, “I miss those days when I was the boss.”
Another thing missed from “those days” when he was a boss is the killer version of Pac-Man that Roach was able to harness into a wrecking machine. It is what led to Roach’s incredible run of success and his current alter ego appears to be at the forefront of his recent failures.
Part of the genius of any trainer/coach is be able to impose himself and maintain control while dealing with different egos and motivating his pupils. In the end, Roach has made the decision to be led instead of leading and his fighters have suffered. Although a lot of his reputation with fighters may have taken a hit in the process, Roach can still correct this and take a hardline making sure that everyone understands he is the boss no matter who you are. It may cost him some money initially but once he is back on the winning track, stars will return in droves.