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Pacquiao and Roach: Is there trouble bigger than Cotto ahead?

Freddie RoachBy P.H. Burbridge - The last few days have been rough for Freddie Roach. His younger brother Joey recently passed away and he’s dealing with the emotional pain of that loss. But, he’s also dealing with a professional dilemma. He hasn’t had an opportunity to speak to his #1 fighter for 2 months now and that concerns him greatly as they are about to take on their most formidable foe to date, Miguel Cotto. We’ve been told that their relationship is closer to that of Father and a Son or big brother / little brother but it’s beginning to sound a little dysfunctional. Freddie’s statements have been aggressive as of late and would seem to reflect a deeper more complex issue. It doesn’t appear that his comments are driven by any strategic smoke signal that camps some times send to one another through the press. In one statement he actually stated that if Team Pacquiao didn’t want him as their trainer anymore then that was fine with him! That kind of a statement is out of character for Roach and should be viewed as a major concern for Pacquiao fans. Roach does not mince words or withhold names. He openly names Mike Koncz, Manny’s agent as the cause for all of these recent concerns. I won’t get into the specifics regarding what Roach has said about Mr. Koncz other than to say that based on his statements he clearly feels that Mike Koncz has an agenda that benefits only Mike Koncz. Freddie is clearly losing his patience and growing increasingly concerned that his input is being ignored on key issues such as training sites. As I wrote earlier in the week, Roach wants to set up camp in Mexico where Manny will be free of distractions and where it will be easier to bring in quality sparring partners. Pacquiao’s advisors have implied that Manny prefers Baguio in the Philippines and wants to set up camp there. Manny through his advisor has also expressed some concerns regarding the safety and security of training in Mexico to which Roach has already responded by indicating that he has made arrangements for a private security force made up of off duty Federal Marshalls to serve as protection for Pacquiao..

So, what’s all this public discord? What’s really going on here? Two months ago they were family and now Roach can’t even get Manny on the phone.

With all due respect to Manny, If Freddie say’s you train in Mexico then YOU TRAIN IN MEXICO!

Let’s cut the BS with the all the “Manny is the Boss” stuff. Not when it comes to training. That falls into Freddie’s scope of responsibility and it sure sounds like he’s got it covered. Get to Mexico, Pacquiao! Roach is right. Getting good sparring partners to jump on a plane for the long flight to the Philippines isn’t going to be as simple as you think. It would be much easier to get fighters to agree to come to Mexico not to mention there’s a country full of home grown fighters who would jump at an opportunity to spar with the P4P King. That won’t be a problem. You don’t want to bring in a group of guys just because they said “yes” to the long flight to the Philippines. Roach needs top level sparring partners and unless you go well over the normal pay scale you’re not going to get those types of fighters. So, in essence you end up with an inferior group of sparring partners or a much smaller group of good fighters. But, the key problem of training in Baguio is all the distractions that are guaranteed to be found there. The Filipino press would set up its own camp and turn up the pressure to a degree that I’m sure Roach doesn’t feel comfortable in his ability to control. In preparation for Hatton, Freddie was clearly starting to struggle with the press and fans at the Wild Card Gym. The media attention in the Philippines would seem like Beatle mania in comparison and Roach obviously cannot spend his days trying to limit access or trying to out smart the press. He also can’t have training interrupted to take pictures or have the various domestic dignitaries stopping by to extend invitations.

Freddie is also starting to show his growing concern in the task at hand just in general. He’s already amended his original statement regarding the type of fight this will likely turn out to be. Back in July, Roach made a statement that Manny would KO Cotto. His most recent prediction is that the fight will go the distance. In fact, he guaranteed it. That tells me he doesn’t think his fighter can KO Cotto. That’s why Roach wants a higher altitude training site so he can challenge Manny’s lung capacity in anticipation of a 12 round stick and move style fight. The elevation in Baguio is 1,500 meters or 5,100 feet compared to 2,667 meters or 8,750 feet in Toluca, Mexico. Roach as usual has the correct idea but will that matter? So, far no one is listening to him and unless Manny does a complete about face when they meet up for their up coming 5 day promotional tour then you can expect the head trainer to embark on this camp with some doubts looming large in the back of his mind.

And, that’s not a good start.

Are Freddie Roach and Manny Pacquiao at a turning point in their partnership? It’s clear that Freddie does not have any affection for Manny’s agent, Mike Koncz who appears to be driving his career and heavily influencing many of his decisions.

Koncz has previously discounted Roach’s input publicly by stating that Freddie was “just the trainer” which I find highly offensive on Roach’s behalf.

It seems that Mr. Koncz needs a little bit of a history lesson. When Manny Pacquiao showed up on Freddie Roach’s doorstep he was a one armed bandit and NOW he’s recognized as the best fighter in the world.

If it hadn’t been for Freddie Roach, Manny may have been beaten a long time ago but I promise you one thing there still would have been a line stretching around the block of young, up & coming world class fighters begging Roach to be their trainer.

So, my advice to you Mr. Koncz is MAKE THE PEACE and let Freddie do his thing because Manny can get a million guys to be his agent but there’s only one Freddie Roach!

And, my advice to Manny Pacquiao is PICK UP THE PHONE!

(Please feel free to contact P.H. Burbridge via email at PHBboxing@yahoo.com with any comments or feedback.)

Article posted on 04.09.2009



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