By Keith Idec
Manny Pacquiao praised Buboy Fernandez for preparing him well for his impressive victory over Lucas Matthysse.
Fernandez, Pacquiao’s friend since childhood and longtime assistant trainer, took over for Freddie Roach as Pacquiao’s head trainer for the Matthysse match.
Pacquiao appeared rejuvenated while dropping Matthysse three times and stopping him in the seventh round Sunday to win the WBA world welterweight title in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
As satisfied as Pacquiao is with Fernandez’s work for this fight, the Filipino icon didn’t dismiss the possibility of working with Roach again for future fights during a post-fight press conference.
“Training with Buboy, I’m not saying that Freddie Roach is not a good trainer,” Pacquiao said. “He’s a good trainer. He’s a legend. I’m thinking to get back Freddie Roach again. I’m thinking about that. But Buboy has done well for this training camp and this fight. So I really appreciate it.”
That said, Pacquiao’s split from Roach was a prominent plot line before, during and after Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) defeated Matthysse (39-5, 36 KOs, 1 NC).
Roach revealed last week in a Los Angeles Times article that he hasn’t spoken to Pacquiao since they left Brisbane, Australia, last July 2 following Pacquiao’s upset loss to Jeff Horn. Roach recalled a conversation he had with Pacquiao in the locker room after Horn surprisingly beat Pacquiao on all three scorecards to take the WBO welterweight title from him.
“You know, Manny,” Roach said, “being a senator and a world-champion boxer is very difficult. … I know you’ve always multitasked, but you might want to think about doing one before the other.”
Pacquiao’s silence struck Roach as strange.
“Manny, are you mad at me?,” Roach remembered asking Pacquiao. “He just smiled at me. That was it. And I haven’t spoken to Manny Pacquiao since.”
The 39-year-old Pacquiao has been criticized for not at least calling Roach to tell the Hall-of-Fame trainer that they wouldn’t work together for the Matthysse fight. Roach still would welcome a reunion with the superstar fighter with whom he is most associated.
“Marriages haven’t lasted this long,” said Roach, who began working with Pacquiao in 2001. “If Manny asked me to get on a jet and train him for free, I’d be the first one on the plane. We have a lot of history. Manny’s my friend. Money … I have enough.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.