By: Sean Crose
Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach are no longer a team. The Filipino multi-division champ (59-7-2) has decided that Restituto “Buboy” Fernandez, along with Raides “Nonoy” Neri, will be his trainers leading up to his July 14th welterweight title fight with Lucas Matthysse (39-4). The news had been expected for some time. Still, Roach appeared somewhat dismayed that Pacquiao hadn’t told him in person that their longtime partnership was over. “I would be lying,” Roach said in a statement, “if I didn’t say I wasn’t hurt that he didn’t contact me personally about his decision, but the great times we enjoyed together far outweigh that.”
Roach has been in Pacquiao’s corner since the fighter made his United States debut back in 2001. During that time, they stayed together through over thirty fights, and the acquisition of numerous title belts. It was Roach who led Pacquiao into battle against Floyd Mayweather in the 2015 superfight that still holds the Pay Per View Record. Since that time, Pacqiuao’s career has been viewed as being on the downslide and word had gotten out recently that Pacquiao wanted to hand over the training duties to someone else. Pacquiao’s last fight with Roach was in early July of last year, when Pacquiao lost a highly controversial decision to Australia’s Jeff Horn.
Fernandez has been close to Pacquiao since the fighter’s debut and is a constant presence in Pacquiao’s entourage. Neri is also in Pacquiao’s inner circle and has been known to be Pacquiao’s cook while the fighter is in training. Among other things, Pacquiao was reportedly displeased that Roach was not firm enough with the referee during the Horn fight, which took place in Horn’s hometown of Brisbane, Australia. Pacquiao was cut numerous times during the bout and felt the cuts were due to Horn headbutting him illegally.
Roach has been credited with turning Pacquiao from a menacing but limited fighter into one of the greatest boxers of his generation. For his own part, the Las Angeles based trainer has not resorted to smearing his most famous and accomplished pupil. “Manny and I had a great run for fifteen years,” he stated, “longer than most marriages and certainly a rarity for boxing. I wouldn’t trade any of it.” Although displeased with the manner of his firing, Roach continued to wish Pacquiao well. “Inside the boxing ring and the political ring, I wish Manny nothing but the best,” he said.