FILIPINO superstar Manny Pacquiao’s partnership with Freddie Roach seemed one of the most enduring fighter-trainer relationships in the sport. The two had been together for years, encompassing the highlights of Pacquiao’s career. Now, for the first time since 2001, Manny Pacquiao will fight without him.
Their partnership had survived defeats, even the low key performance against Floyd Mayweather. But perhaps losing to underdog Jeff Horn in Australia was a bridge too far. In what could the final fight week of his glittering career, Manny Pacquiao heads to Malaysia to fight Lucas Matthysse without Freddie Roach in his corner.
He will have a familiar face beside him. Long-time friend Buboy Fernandez has taken over responsibilities from Freddie Roach. He has been in Manny Pacquiao’s camp for years but of course does not have Roach’s track record as a top trainer. He however insists all is well. Fernandez told Boxing Scene, “He is happy with how training camp is about to end. He is happy with the coaching staff’s cohesion and cooperation. [Justine Fortune], his cooperation being the strength and conditioning coach has rubbed off good vibes within the camp.”
Also missing from his team will be Bob Arum, who has promoted Pacquiao for the biggest fights of his career. Pacquiao’s own promotional company will stage his clash with Matthysse at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur. Arum’s company Top Rank however have handled the US distribution rights for the fight, taking the bout to the ESPN+ streaming app.
There have been doubts shrouding the build up to the fight. Matthysse wouldn’t travel out to Malaysia until the required funds had been deposited in escrow. Flirting with missing the deadline, the money did come through and the fight is on.
Matthysse told ESPN, “I just kept training with the same desire I always have. I knew the fight would happen so I didn’t really pay attention to what was going on. I feel good and I am happy to be heading out there to Malaysia to defend my title.”