“When you start with a guy, you should finish with a guy,” Angelo Dundee.
For the first time since way back in 2001 the great Manny Pacquiao will enter a fight without trainer and corner-man Freddie Roach assisting him. On Saturday in Kuala Lumper, the former multi-weight world ruler will rumble with Argentine puncher Lucas Matthysse and Roach will not be on hand to give Manny his words of wisdom in the corner.
Pacquiao started his pro career without Roach but it’s undeniable the two worked so well, so specially together, with Roach turning Pac Man into a compete fighter. It seemed to be a partnership that would only end with the retirement of Pacquiao. Can Pacquiao be successful without Freddie at this late stage in his career?
The great Muhammad Ali always had the equally great Angelo Dundee to rely on, from his second pro fight until his very last bout. Ali was smart enough to know he could never dispense with the valuable contributions Dundee made both in the gym and in the corner. In the end, even Dundee was unable to save Ali – his terrible fights with Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick being bad defeats for “The Greatest.”
But Dundee was there until the end. Should Roach be there with his star pupil until the end? Does Freddie want to be? Pacquiao has surprised fight fans by ditching Roach and some feel he may pay for it against Matthysse. Will Manny get the advice and the tactics and the game-plan he needs from his replacement team? If the fight becomes a war, will Manny miss hearing Freddie’s calm words and reassurance?
Whenever a great partnership breaks up, one half inevitably suffers as a result of the breakup. Will this be Manny Pacquiao on Saturday? Or, if Pacquiao does win, will he continue to fight, and will he continue to do so without Roach? I wonder how Freddie will feel if this proves to be the case. How will Freddie feel if he watches Saturday’s fight and, powerless to help, sees his former fighter take a bad beating?
“I had to be there, so I could stop it if my guy got hurt,” Dundee said of the Holmes-Ali and Berbick-Ali fights.
We all thought it would be this way with Roach and Pacquiao too.