By Keith Idec
Freddie Roach isn’t certain if what he said to Manny Pacquiao in the immediate aftermath of Pacquiao’s controversial loss to Jeff Horn hurt their relationship.
All Roach knows is that he hasn’t spoken to the Filipino legend since the veteran trainer gave Pacquiao some advice after that fight. Roach recalled their exchange in Pacquiao’s locker room at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia, for an article the Los Angeles Times published Sunday.
“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 complete silence struck Roach as unusual.
“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.”
Roach had suggested publicly on numerous occasions before Pacquiao lost to Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs) that Pacquiao shouldn’t continue trying to fight at boxing’s elite level if he were going to remain committed to his time-consuming, full-time job as a senator in the Philippines. The 39-year-old Pacquiao hasn’t fought since the then-unknown Horn upset him by unanimous decision in their 12-round fight for Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title last July 2.
Pacquiao never called Roach to fire him. Roach learned through the media of Pacquiao’s decision to work with “Buboy” Fernandez, his childhood friend and longtime assistant trainer, for his upcoming fight against Lucas Matthysse.
Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) will challenge Argentina’s Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs, 1 NC) for Matthysse’s WBA world welterweight title Saturday night in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (ESPN+; 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
Pacquiao told the Los Angeles Times that he would consider working with Roach again in the future.
“Did you talk to Freddie?,” Pacquiao asked the Times’ Lance Pugmire. “When you talk to him again, can you please say hello? And please say thank you.”
Roach would welcome a reunion with the Hall-of-Fame fighter that helped make him rich and famous.
“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.