Freddie Roach is a three-time recipient of the Trainer of the Year award from the prestigious Boxing Writers Association of America in 2003, 2006, and 2008. Reading through a list of fighters that he has worked with will reveal a virtual Who’s Who
not only in boxing, but also from mixed martial arts with even some occasional basketball and Hollywood celebrities chipped in. Boxing greats Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Michael Moorer, Bernard Hopkins, James Toney, and Israel Vasquez have all worked with Freddie in the past.
Up and coming boxers such as Amir Khan and Guillermo Rigondeaux also look to rise even higher through the improvement of their chosen craft under Roach’s tutelage. MMA fighters Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Andrei Arlovski, and Anderson Silva have all hooked up with Roach at one point or another in order to fine-tune the boxing component of their respective arsenal.
It is a testament to the man’s popularity and the respect that he gets from the boxing community and even beyond. Much of this newfound widespread adulation however coincides with the meteoric rise of his most prized pupil, pound-for-pound boxing champ Manny Pacquiao, that it is almost impossible to separate one from the other when examining the merits of each.
Ever the humble guy that he is however, Roach is quick to downplay his contribution to Pacman’s accomplishments. In an article posted by Anthony Wilson
of sportingnews.com last Tuesday, Freddie says: “I heard people say I’m the greatest trainer in the world and stuff like that. It’s a very nice compliment. But I just think I hang out with the best fighter in the world”, obviously referring to his long-time friend and top boxer Manny Pacquiao, sounding almost bashful as if unworthy to be mentioned alongside a distinguished company.
He is then quick to assess his signature fighter’s place alongside all-time greats, “(The) Manny Pacquiaos come once in a lifetime. He’s like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson. These guys don’t come along too often.”
Roach compliments Pacquiao’s work ethic and points to it as the most important factor for his lopsided wins in his last three fights over Diaz, De La Hoya, and Hatton. He believes that Manny executed the perfect fights in that impressive stretch and he doesn’t think that anyone is capable of beating the Pacman with the way he is fighting as of the moment.
Despite Roach’s modest attempt to keep it low-key though, respected figures in the boxing community are still singing his praises.
Well-respected trainer of Mexican boxing legends Nacho Beristain
during his interview with ESPN's Spanish TV program "Golpe a Golpe", says of Roach:
"I think Pacquiao is lucky to have him in his corner, Freddie Roach is one of the best trainers in the world and he has a lot of knowledge and he has made Pacquiao a better fighter who used to have a lot of flaws in his style. Pacquiao used to jump when throwing punches and now he is doing great from a technical point of view and that is Freddie's work."
Hall of Fame manager-trainer and HBO commentator Emanuel Steward
, in an interview with Michael Marley of examiner.com, says:
“Freddie is a solid trainer who was taught so much by Eddie Futch and was a good pro boxer himself.”
Whether he takes the credit or not for the Pacman's amazing transformation from the raw one-fisted slugger when they first collaborated back in 2001 to the polished and controlled all-around marvel that he is now may be irrelevant for Freddie Roach. Like a father who is quietly contented with letting his children bask in the glory of their own accomplishments, he just seems to be genuinely concerned about the career and welfare of his fighters. Being a bachelor with no child of his own, Freddie says this about his fighters, “they are my kids,” and of Pacquiao, “he’s like my favorite son.”