Boxing


'Call Em Out Fridays': Manny Pacquiao/Freddie Roach - Open Chapter or Closed Case?

Pac RoachBy Vivek Wallace: On January 22nd, 1995, the world of boxing gave birth to the career of a little known Filipino fighter by the name of Emannuel Dapidran Pacquiao. In a sport that breeds newcomers like a fruit crop, few knew at the time how this particular prospect would evolve. As we all learn at some point in life the hands of time waits for no man, and in the aftermath of that fast-forward of the clock, 7 world titles, 7 weight classes, and many accolades later, a vision that was once unclear now appears picture perfect. Throughout history, it seems that in every generation the world of athletics receives some new phenomenal attraction. Decades ago the NBA gave birth to the tandem of Red Auerbach and Bill Russell. When most felt it could get no better, we witnessed the spectacles of Riley and Magic, or Jackson and Jordan. Years after those tandems dissolved we see the re-emergence of Phil Jackson, only this time his partner in crime was Kobe Bryant.

Time and time again we see these perennial figures come along to put an indelible print on their particular generation, but never before have we really seen someone who was able to accomplish the type of feats that outweigh the great history of time itself - in any sport.. With more and more talk of a possible retirement looming, supporters have now began to pose this question - relative to whether or not Pacquiao would in fact be the first to do so, creating a legacy that can never be broken, regardless of how good those who come after him may be. Judging by the trail of accolades he would leave behind, it becomes increasingly difficult for even his critics to argue with any level of success to oppose this view.

When we look at the complete body of work of Manny Pacquiao, it's revealed that his evolution didn't quite begin the way it's on par to end. The early days saw him fall in a few key matches, but like any true warrior, those 'falls' were limited to those particular nights, as the present appears unshakably stable, solidified by the man he hired to form his own master tandem, lead trainer Freddie Roach.

Where would Pacquiao be without Roach? That's a great question....but one he'd rather not know the answer to. Typical for the humble Filipino, although according to trainer/cutman of Joshua Clottey who used to be Pacquiao's cutman, with or without Roach, Pacquiao on his way to being a star, regardless.

When the two initially began their mission, Roach made it clear that there were a few things he would have to correct if Pacquiao would one day earn a spot on the short list of that epic pantheon of greatness. He immediately performed his inspection section for section, took the imperfections and changed his direction. Few realized the true strength of this connection, but time gave answers to the questions.

To date, the tandem remains one, inseparable in many ways, but away from the sport, they lead two totally different lives. Roach is more quiet, more into his own space, and equally as comfortable away from the spotlight. Pacquiao, on the other hand, is far more extroverted, spending most of his time in the public indulging everything from live performances, to acting, to simply just living amongst the people. The personality of Manny Pacquiao is quite dynamic and has added an extra element to his marketability. It often gives those who adore him the sense that they know him, yet there's so much about him that most still don't know.

A great example of this came in a recent interview with uncle/trainer of Floyd Mayweather jr., Roger Mayweather who alleged that the fighter takes an old wartime drug associated with Filipino's called A-side meth. After the realization that such a drug doesn't quite seem to exist, the resounding question from many fight fans pondered "why would Pacquiao be linked to a drug associated with military troops"? It seems there's a large contingent of those who adore him that currently have no idea that the proud Filipino is currently active in the Filipino Army Reserve as a Sergeant Major. Now, by no means does this military link validate the baseless claim, but it does serve as yet another example of how deep the Pacquiao web reaches, not only touching the lives of fight fans and locals, but agreeing to put his life on the line for those people, as well.

When we compare him to some of those legendary names like Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Mike Tyson, it's clear that they share much more than the same first letter in their names. His transcendent power has even led a few to quietly initiate statements that say the humble Filipino has in fact overshadowed their efforts. A pretty strong statement indeed, but the reality here is that his chapter remains unwritten, wherein the others' chapter is in many ways officially closed. The only breaking point of contention is that at their highest peak, each of those men not only transcended the sport away from the game, but was the clear and concise dominant force found within it.

While Pacquiao's global success outside the ring has grown and his ability in it is undeniable, there is one source still available in this era that many feel could possibly hold the key to his puzzle. In the case of Ali and Jordan, both men were able to (for the most part) soundly defeat all major players of their era. In the case of Pacquiao, this one source remains an incomplete 'test'. One that Pacquiao has made clear that he won't necessarily stick around to take. Will that undone 'test' on the resume void all of its history? Or will it simply be a small footnote attached to a larger body of work that remains unparalleled? At the end of the day it probably comes down to who you ask? Then again, that guy named Joshua Clottey may have an entry to add to Pacquiao's great book first, as well. But until then, all we can do is celebrate what is....not what may be...or what has been. So if this is in fact the end....relish the moment....as it may never happen again!

(Today is the 50th Birthday of legendary trainer Freddie Roach. Happy Birthday Freddie, and we hope you see a million more)

(Vivek Wallace can be reached at vivexemail@yahoo.com, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook, and Myspace).

Article posted on 05.03.2010



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