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EXCLUSIVE! Pacquiao trainers Roach, Fernandez on collision course?

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By Nick Giongco

LOS ANGELES — World Boxing Association welterweight king Manny Pacquiao has a daunting job ahead of him that he has to straighten out right away to prevent hell from breaking loose.

Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach is dismayed at what Buboy Fernandez has said about him. (Nick Giongco)

Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach is dismayed at what Buboy Fernandez has said about him. (Nick Giongco)

The personages involve two key men in camp: Freddie Roach and Buboy Fernandez.

Twelve days after Pacquiao’s emphatic win over Keith Thurman in Las Vegas, Roach spoke with the Bulletin on Thursday and lamented the fact that Fernandez insists that he has the authority and not Roach, on whether Pacquiao should retire or not.

“If I ever see signs of him slowing down, I’d be the first one to say it. Buboy said the other day that I don’t have the power to do that. Buboy, I don’t have the power to do that but my suggestion to him would be honest,” said Roach as he was about to train heavy-handed African super-bantamweight Isaac Dogboe.

“I am really pissed off that he said that about me,” said Roach, referring to a statement made by Fernandez during a Q&A with Filipino scribes a day after Pacquiao’s split decision win.

Fernandez, who has also entered politics after being voted as vice-mayor of Polangui, Albay, in the Philippines, swears that as Pacquiao’s long-time friend, he knows exactly what’s best for his buddy.

Roach had also talked with the same group of Manila-based writers and told them that owing to Pacquiao being 40 and most of the challengers are younger by at least ten years, it would be advisable that he sits
out the remainder of the year.

But if there’s one thing that Roach and Fernandez have in common, it is the belief that the World Boxing Association champion should stay away from a couple of other welterweight champions: Errol Spence and Terence Crawford.

Spence is the International Boxing Federation ruler while Crawford is the World Boxing Organization titlist. Shawn Porter, Pacquiao’s former sparmate, is the World Boxing Council supremo and is booked to face Spence on Sept. 28.

“There’s a couple of guys that maybe we should stay away from and these guys are young, young, young killers,” said Roach, pointing to Spence, 29, and Crawford, 31, both unbeaten.

“It’s unfair,” said Roach, noting the wide age difference since Pacquiao would already be 41 by the time he resurfaces next year.

Still, Roach feels that a motivated and well-trained Pacquiao, have what it takes to “put them on their asses” the way Keith Thurman, also undefeated, hit the floor in the first round at the MGM Grand.

“If Manny sucks it up what he did in the last fight and shows these young guys how it’s all about…I mean, it’s just not over yet because his health is good, his mind,” said Roach, who admitted that he was deeply concerned when Pacquiao couldn’t see immediately after the action-packed bout.

“But when I saw him shadowboxing in the morning, I knew that he was okay.”

Then again, Pacquiao has to step in before a minor weather disturbance worsens into a superstorm.

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