Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach will not look back on the previous 12 months with great pleasure. After what has been an illustrious career for Roach, the past 12 months have been more agony than triumph, capped this past weekend by the defeat of the previously unbeaten Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Although it is has been a difficult time period for the founder of the Wildcard Gym, there have been some high points, including the progression of unbeaten middleweight “Kid Chocolate”, Peter Quillin, and the honor of being inducted into boxing’s Hall of Fame, a prestigious honor thoroughly deserved. Roach does not appear to be a man that panics and is very methodical in his approach, both in and out of the gym, but the recent turn of events should be worrisome to a man who has trained numerous world champions and is the mastermind behind the success of 8-division world champion Manny Pacquiao.
Late last year, the split decision victory for Manny Pacquiao over Juan Manuel Marquez angered and surprised a lot of people, which led to calls from Roach that maybe it is soon time for Pacquiao to think about retiring. The following month, the then IBF and WBA light welterweight champion of the world Amir Khan lost his titles in Washington to Lamont Peterson. In June, Roach’s number one fighter Manny Pacquiao this time lost out a controversial and high-profile bout against Timothy Bradley. Next followed Amir Khan’s devastating knockout defeat to Danny Garcia in his unification light welterweight championship bout. That result has now led to Roach and Khan going their separate ways. Both men respectfully released statements, but it seems as if a war of words could be brewing…
“I wanted [Pacquiao] to fight the guy Garcia, Danny Garcia,” said Roach in an interview to Examiner.com. “I wanted that fight because Amir Khan says that I don’t teach defense to him and Manny Pacquiao.”
“Why did he compare himself to Manny Pacquiao? It depends what I taught him. Let’s see what Manny does with your last opponent. Manny wouldn’t lose a round.”
With Roach’s ties to Khan now over, the main problem I still see for Roach is his relationship with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Whether you like Roach, dislike him, agree with him, or disagree with him, you cannot help but respect the work ethic and the commitment of the man, who is a long-time sufferer of Parkinson’s disease, but fails to let it prevent him doing the job he loves. His role and commitment in the sport should serve as inspiration to anybody who wishes to achieve something in life. Which brings me to Chavez Jr., the son of a Mexican boxing legend. Julio Cesar Chavez always has been a fine ambassador and role model for the sport, but the same cannot be said for his son.
HBO’s 24/7 series really highlighted the lack of professionalism and respect that the seemingly over-hyped young fighter has for not only Freddie Roach, but the sport itself. This is a man that failed a drug test in 2009, and then skipped out of a drug test following his victory over Marco Antonio Rubio. He also refused to have his gloves weighed and then chose to have the post-fight drug test before his fight against Andy Lee actually took place. Most recently, his total lack of respect for Roach was on display in front of the world’s eyes on 24/7. What more does this kid want or need? He has arguably the biggest promotional company in the world, one of the greatest gyms and trainers in the world, the opportunity to play off his father’s name, and what does he do? He showed a total disregard to all who support him. Watching that 24/7 series made me sick. Here is a man in Freddie Roach who is suffering from a very serious disease, working hard preparing a number of other fighters, but still wanting to get Chavez Jr. prepared for the biggest match in his career, only to see the young Mexican pick and choose when he wanted to train, leaving Roach waiting at the gym. In fairness to Roach, he remained diplomatic about the situation, but was evidently angered and deserves better treatment from a fighter who has benefited greatly from working with him.
The result of the fight has proven that Chavez Jr. is out of his depth and does not possess the right attitude to emulate the success his father, or any other great champion for that matter, accomplished. The fact that people are calling for a rematch is laughable, and the knockdown has very little significance after being dominated for 11 rounds. Some people have absurdly said that if he stepped it up earlier, he would have stopped Martinez. Maybe the fact that he did not step it up before the 12th was because he wasn’t able to. Martinez was so dominant in the performance that it was his own bad decision to stand and trade in the 12th that gave Chavez the opportunity to keep his career afloat.
Freddie Roach has overcome a lot of adversity in his life to work consistently hard for his fighters, but this guy just doesn’t get it, and the best thing in this writer’s opinion is for Freddie Roach to sever all ties with Chavez Jr. Whether you believe Roach played a part in the controversial moments in Chavez Jr.’s recent matches is another matter, but I personally believe that it is a waste of Roach’s time to continue to work with a guy that just seems to neglect all the hard work, and instead seemingly relies on his ridiculous size advantages in each fight to emerge victorious. As we’ve seen, however, against a smart and quick fighter, that is not going to work, and he really should look to fight at a higher weight instead of attempting to take the easier route against smaller guys.
Freddie Roach’s next high-profile bout is Manny Pacquiao’s December fight against Juan Manuel Marquez. A loss for Pacquiao could really open the floodgates for more people to start leaving Roach. It has been noted by other top trainers and fighters in the sport that Roach’s fighters generally have the same weaknesses, a fact that could be attributed to his coaching style. Another loss for Pacquiao will surely ring alarm bells for Roach, and he will surely ask himself not only the question as to what is going wrong, but why is he devoting time and effort to somebody (Chavez Jr.) who seems to believe they know more than him. It will be interesting to see if Freddie Roach can teach this guy some respect and put his foot down on all this garbage, or whether he will decide to walk away, because surely he cannot tolerate this.