Coming off a near one-year layoff, former eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao discusses his long working relationship with trainer Freddie Roach. This coming Saturday in Macau, Pacquiao will face Brandon Rios, who moves up in weight from 140-pounds to take the challenge.
We know you have a fantastic relationship with Roach. How much has he meant to you personally & professionally?
"Freddie Roach has meant everything to my professional boxing career and to me personally. I cannot overstate my feelings for him.
"We bonded the first time we ever worked together and that was at Wild Card Boxing Club in 2001. My then-manager brought me to Wild Card looking for someone to hit the mitts with me and Freddie volunteered. After the first round I went back to my corner and said, "I just found my new trainer," and Freddie went back to his corner and said, "I just found my new fighter." We've been a team ever since.
"Our first fight together was when we got a late call to challenge IBF junior featherweight champion Lehlo Ledwaba. We had only worked together four or five weeks and we won our first world title together when I knocked Ledwaba out. If that's not a sign I don't know what is. It was providence.
"My English was not very good back then but we had no problem understanding each other. Our success as a professional team can be read on my resume, but it's our relationship outside the ring which has meant so much more to me
"At various times Freddie has been a father and a brother to me. When I needed advice or assistance he always came through for me, either personally or by setting me up with the right people. He has been such a big influence on me and he has had a great impact on my life and my career. He gave me the foundation to become the person I am today and if not for Freddie perhaps I would not be able to accomplish the things I have. I am successful and independent because of the years of guidance Freddie has given to me.
"As a trainer Freddie inspires me to be the best I can be inside the gym and inside the ring. He is a wonderful teacher. The way he lives his life and faces his affliction inspires me personally and spiritually.
"Freddie Roach has been good for my soul. He has been a blessing. I never want to let Master Freddie down and I will always pray for him."
24/7 Pacquiao/Rios Finale debuts Thursday, Nov. 21 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
Pacquiao vs. Rios takes place Saturday, Nov. 23 live on pay-per-view beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.