Manny Pacquiao indicates he’s split with longtime trainer Freddie Roach
The final line of a news release detailing how Manny Pacquiao is set for his July 14 welterweight title fight against champion Lucas Matthysse in Malaysia alludes to the most significant development.
“Pacquiao will be joined by his new promotions team along with trainers Restituto ‘Buboy’ Fernandez and Raides ‘Nonoy’ Neri.”
There was no mention of Pacquiao’s longtime trainer Freddie Roach, who collected seven trainer-of-the-year awards from the Boxing Writers Assn. of America while developing Pacquiao from a lighter, more raw super-bantamweight in 2001 into a record seven-division world champion.
“I had a great  years with the guy and if they feel it’s time for me to go, I’m not upset with Manny,” Roach told the Los Angeles Times. “We had a great run.
“That many years? Who lasts that long together in this business?”
Roach said he hasn’t been officially informed by the 39-year-old Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 knockouts) that he’s out as lead trainer.
He said Pacquiao’s close business manager Michael Koncz informed Roach’s assistant in a recent telephone call to “don’t believe everything that you read.”
But asked if he feels he deserves a call directly from Pacquiao after all of their success, Roach said, “Probably … ”
Fernandez and Neri are longtime friends and confidants of Pacquiao, but their corner work is nowhere near the caliber of Roach, who has also worked with Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Amir Khan.
Pacquiao experienced difficulties with the rugged fighting tactics of Australia’s Jeff Horn in July, when Horn posted a stunning victory by unanimous decision to claim the World Boxing Organization welterweight belt.
Afterward, Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum and Koncz criticized Roach for not more aggressively complaining to the referee about Horn taking liberties during the bout, adding that the corner direction to Pacquiao seemed lacking.
Koncz was unavailable Friday to clarify if Roach has been officially removed as trainer.
Roach typically worked with Pacquiao at the trainer’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, where Pacquiao first met him while seeking a new trainer before scoring a sixth-round technical knockout of Lehlo Ledwaba on June 23, 2001, in Las Vegas.
Roach’s emphasis on offense combined with Pacquiao’s superior hand speed and punching power allowed the fighter to win belts all the way up to 154 pounds.
“Manny will make the final decision on this. He’s contemplating letting Buboy shine at the finish of his career,” Koncz said this month. “If Buboy can get a stable of boxers out of this … no hard feelings to Freddie, but Manny has not made a final decision.
“Manny learned a lot from Freddie, but he’s at the stage where he’s going to be ending his career, and I truly believe this: A fighter must only have one voice in the corner and it must be a voice he can trust.”
Roach said returning to train Pacquiao for the World Boxing Assn. secondary belt against Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs), who will train under Joel Diaz in Indio, “would be nice. But if Manny has made a final decision, it’s out of my hands.”
Roach continues to stay busy. He trains Jose Ramirez, who won a junior-welterweight belt in March, and recently worked with featherweight title challenger Scott Quigg.
“I’m busy and have a lot of fighters,” Roach said.
Pacquiao, meanwhile, will promote his ESPN-televised bout from the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, with promotional stops in Manila on April 18 and in Kuala Lumpur two days later.
Muhammad Ali fought Joe Bugner in Malaysia in 1975.
“It’s all systems go,” Pacquiao said in the release. “We have assembled the biggest fight card Malaysia has been waiting for in the 43 years since Ali-Bugner.”
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