BY GREG BEACHAM
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Manny Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach say their 16-year partnership has ended.
Pacquiao disclosed his decision Friday in the final sentence of a news release detailing his plans for his upcoming fight against Lucas Matthysse.
Roach says he didn’t officially learn about the split until Pacquiao’s announcement. Pacquiao frequently credited Roach for his evolution from a raw Filipino puncher into an eight-division world champion during countless hours of work in Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Hollywood.
Roach issued a bittersweet statement heralding the end of one of the most durable partnerships in a notoriously fickle sport. Roach had been in Pacquiao’s corner for 34 consecutive fights since his U.S. debut in 2001.
“Manny and I had a great run for 15 years — longer than most marriages and certainly a rarity for boxing,” Roach said. “I wouldn’t trade any of it. Inside the boxing ring and the political ring, I wish Manny nothing but the best. I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t hurt that he didn’t contact me personally about his decision, but the great times we enjoyed together far outweigh that.”
The 39-year-old Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) is in the twilight of his career, with four losses in his last nine bouts and a noticeable decrease in the hand speed that made him an incredible fighter. He lost a decision to Floyd Mayweather in 2015, and he lost another to unheralded Australian Jeff Horn in his final bout with Roach in July 2017.
But Pacquiao, who is also a senator in the Philippines, is determined to extend his career. He will be trained by Restituto “Buboy” Fernandez and Raides “Nonoy” Neri for his fight against Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs) for the WBA welterweight title in Kuala Lumpur on July 15.
Fernandez is Pacquiao’s longtime right-hand man and a fixture in the Wild Card during Pacquiao’s training sessions with Roach. Neri also is a longtime friend and occasional cook for Pacquiao, who typically kept a huge entourage of Filipino friends around him during his months in California.
Roach is widely considered one of the greatest trainers in recent boxing history. He took over Pacquiao’s development in 2001 after the young Filipino fighter showed up at the Wild Card and asked for guidance.
Pacquiao also is becoming a serious promoter with his bout against Matthysse, the Argentine power puncher backed by Golden Boy Promotions. Top Rank, Pacquiao’s longtime promoter, will handle certain aspects of the promotion.
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