By Chris Robinson
At the moment, five-time Trainer of the Year Freddie Roach is tucked away in the city of Las Vegas, as he counts down the days to his star fighter Manny Pacquiao’s fourth duel with Juan Manuel Marquez, a clash that is set for this Saturday night inside of the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
It’s never a sure thing whenever Pacquiao and Marquez set foot inside of the ring together, yet Roach has been oozing with confidence heading into the crucial battle.
One week later, one of Roach’s previous pupils, former junior welterweight champion Amir Khan, will be facing off with undefeated lightweight hopeful Carlos Molina inside of the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
While not the most intriguing of fights on paper, Khan’s bout with Molina is very crucial, as he will be looking to bounce back from his upset TKO loss to Danny Garcia this past July.
Following the defeat to Garcia, a bout in which he was dropped three times, Khan broke ties with Roach and hired the services of respected trainer Virgil Hunter, known best for his work with WBA/WBC super middleweight champion Andre Ward.
Asked if he will be watching Khan’s next fight, Roach pointed out that he will likely have a ringside view of the action.
“I have Frankie Gomez on the show, so I will be there,” Roach told me following Wednesday’s Pacquiao-Marquez IV press conference. “I’ll probably take a look at it.”
Asked for any specific details on how he and Khan parted ways, Roach revealed that he simply wasn’t in a position to grant the British star's requests.
“They told me if I fire Manny Pacquiao and [Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.] that they’ll keep me on as trainer, and they wanted to be number one,” said Roach. “I said ‘Right now I can’t do that’ and they said ‘We’re going to go in a different direction then’. So I said ‘Good luck and I wish you the best’.”
In late October, Khan had appeared to have taken a few digs at Roach, hinting that his Parkinson’s disease was preventing him from performing at a high level. Khan has since tried to clarify what he meant by his comments and Roach personally doesn’t feel the need to focus on such remarks either way.
“I wish him well,” Roach would add, taking the high road. “I don’t want to dwell over that. It’s not worth it to be honest with you.”
Asked for any personal opinion he had on Hunter as a trainer, Roach expressed a strong belief that he likely won’t be able to refine Khan as a fighter at this point in his career.
“He has a good fighter, one of the best fighters in the world and one of the best boxers in the world,” Roach stated, referring to Ward. “Can he change Amir Khan? I don’t think that’s possible; people can’t change their character, he is what he is.”
Khan and Pacquiao had often trained alongside one another, even engaging in some heated sparring sessions in the past, yet their camaraderie with one another killed any hopes of them one day meeting in the ring.
With the dynamics having now changed, Roach admitted that he couldn’t completely rule out Amir as a possible foe for Pacquiao if he were to resurrect his career.
“They’ve always been friendly with each other and he emulates a lot of Manny, steals a lot of his moves,” said Roach. “I don’t think that’s a big fight. There’s other guys out there. Brandon Rios, guys like that, hopefully Mayweather. But a possible opponent? Yeah.”