Freddie Roach On The Best Fighters He's Trained
by James Slater: Ace trainer Freddie Roach hasn’t enjoyed the best of years here in 2011: at least two of his star fighters have not shone as brightly as they might have this year. Manny Pacquiao was deemed mighty lucky by most to have kept his welterweight title in his unexpectedly close points win over archrival Juan Manuel Marquez in their third meeting last month, while 140-pound star Amir Khan lost in a shocker to Lamont Peterson last weekend.
Article posted on 17.12.2011
As a result of both results, some critics are suggesting Roach’s fighters do not know how to fight on the inside. Freddie must still be ranked as one of the best trainers out there, however, his past achievements undoubted. But who are the fighters Roach feels are the best he’s ever worked with?
In a fascinating article in The Los Angeles Daily News, Roach spoke with Michael Rosenthal about the fighters he has worked with in his over twenty year career as a boxing trainer. Roach, in no surprise, says "Pac Man" is without a doubt the most disciplined boxer he has ever worked with. Whereas when it comes to the most skilled fighter he's trained, Roach lists former multi-weight champ James "Lights Out" Toney. Speaking first about the Filipino dynamo, Roach praised his amazing work ethic.
"Manny's the most disciplined fighter I've ever had," Freddie said. "He trains like mad and pushes himself to the limit. He's just amazing."
One fighter who never had, or is ever likely to have, Pacquaio's love of training for a fight, is James Toney. However, Roach says, hands down, the 43-year-old is the most skilled boxer he's been associated with.
"Toney is the most natural fighter I've ever seen," Praised Freddie. "When he says, 'All you mother F*****s have to train but I was born to fight,' he means it. The way he moved, the vision he had, to see everything coming at him, he was just so gifted. He's getting older now and getting hit more than ever. At his peak, though, he'd sit on the ropes and make you miss a hundred punches and come back with counter shots. It was something to watch."
Freddie then lamented on how James had no fondness for training.
"He had no discipline," Roach said. "If he had discipline he could've been heavyweight champion of the world and dominated the division. It just didn't turn out that way. I'm not sure why he didn't get in shape and stay healthy. I guess some guys with that kind of talent just take it for granted."
Interesting revelations from Roach indeed. Even more so is the list Freddie gave of his former fighter's best assets when asked to come up with the "perfect fighter." When making the greatest possible all-round "dream" fighter using the talents of men he trains or has trained, Freddie gave the following choices.
The boxing ability of Toney
The punching power of Mike Tyson
The jab of Virgil Hill
The defensive skills of Marlon Starling
The chin of Steve Collins
The work ethics of Pacquiao and Hill
The durability of Pacquiao.
It’s clear from the choices Freddie listed, this humble, likeable man has trained a ton of talent in his day. Can Roach find more future champions before he’s done? And can he see to it that Pacquiao and Khan bounce back to their former dominance?
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