U.S. BOXING GURU STAYS WITH TEAM PACQUIAO

MANILA, January 6, 2004  (STAR) By Dante Navarro - Bad news for Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent, Team Pacquiao is solid as rock.

Freddie Roach, the world class boxing guru who transformed Pacquiao into a peerless, top-class fighter, has reconsidered his decision to sever ties with the Filipino champ and would resume his key role as trainer of the world’s newest boxing sensation.

The American mentor had "apologized for all the troubles" caused by his recent announcement to quit and criticize the uncrowned world featherweight champion’s US promoter Murad Muhammad over money matters, according to Roberto Nazario, son of Pacquiao’s business manager Rod Nazario in an interview with broadcast journalist Ronnie Nathanielsz on the Boxingscene.com.

But it was Pacquiao who reiterated his desire to keep the bespectacled Roach in the team at all costs, describing the latter as a father, a brother and a friend all rolled into one.

"I want Freddie to be my trainer and to stay with me until I retire at age 30," said Pacquiao, now 25 and considered as the best pound-for-pound fighter after demolishing Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera in 11 rounds in a non-title but highly-regarded fight at the Alamodome last November.

"Freddie is like a father, a brother and a friend. He is good. I learned so much from him. We like each other and we are lucky for each other," he added. "He likes me because of my good habits. He knows I am a good guy. I have discipline and I train very hard, even on Sundays. Besides, I listen to what he says."

Pacquiao had earlier instructed Nazario to pay Roach 10 percent of his purse minus taxes even if it meant paying the trainer $100,000 or $200,000 on megabuck fights.

"Murad is the problem. Rod has been good to me. He has done a lot. I will just keep him as a business manager. That’s all. But I want to make sure that Freddie will remain as my trainer. I want him to be given the 10 percent he is asking. Even if my purse is $2 million I want him given $200,000 minus the taxes on the amount, of course. I want Rod to make this clear to him," stressed Pacquiao.

With Roach back in the fold, experts believe Pacquiao will be as devastating in his future fights, including the one Roach had wanted to line up for his ward — a bout with Johnny Tapia or Paulie Ayala in a megabuck fight as a prelude to Pacquiao’s keenly-awaited clash with Juan Manuel Marquez.

In fact, Pacquiao and Rod Nazario are set to leave for New York on Jan. 15 to meet with Muhammad and the HBO bigwigs and discuss his next fight and the opponent.

Roach had earlier said that the best opponent for the Filipino southpaw would be Ayala, adding "this is the time to take on him (Ayala) because he may be going down and Manny will be the first fighter to knock him out."

Marquez, on the other hand, said he wants to fight Pacquiao after his IBF mandatory defense against Armenian William Abelyan in late February.

"Marquez is good but I can beat him. No problem. Right now I would like to rest because I trained long and hard for the last fight against Barrera. It was a hard fight. People don’t know that the training is harder than the fight itself. I am excited about my next fight especially against a good opponent. I will train hard and prepare well so I will maintain my reputation and that of our country," Pacquiao added.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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