[PHOTO AT LEFT - Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao runs with his Jack Russell terrier dog ‘Pacman’ at Burnham Park in Baguio City on Wednesday morning. Artemio Dumlao]

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 30, 2010 (STAR) By Joaquin Henson 

MANILA, Philippines - Boxing trainer Freddie Roach’s biggest paycheck as a fighter was $13,000 which he earned in losing a decision to Hector (Macho) Camacho in 1985. When he worked Oscar de la Hoya’s corner for his 2007 fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr., Roach was paid $750,000. And since Manny Pacquiao’s ascendancy, Roach has raked in at least $1 million a bout with the world’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter.

“Manny changed my life,” said Roach in an interview a few days before leaving Manila last Sunday to set up Pacquiao’s training camp in Baguio. “I never imagined, nearly 10 years ago when Manny walked into the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, we would be where we are today.”

Roach, 50, receives an average of 20 calls a day from fighters asking to work with the Boxing Writers Association of America’s four-time Trainer of the Year (2003, 2006, 2008, 2009) and about 50 media interview requests a week. He has a pending offer to appear in a TV series where a cameraman and broadcaster track his movements from morning to night – and the fee is $25,000 a week.

To rationalize his busy schedule, Roach relies on his secretary Marie Spivey and agent Nick Khan. Spivey holds office at the Wild Card Gym.

Roach said he was recently interviewed for a big story in the October issue of Playboy Magazine. The feature is entitled “The Unstoppable Roach” and details his life history from childhood. In the article, Roach said his mother Barbara ran a “tough household” and related an incident where “she broke up one of our fights with an aluminum baseball bat, hitting my brother over the head with it twice.”

Roach’s mother is in the record books as the first American female boxing judge and was assigned to the Marvelous Marvin Hagler-Vito Antuofermo WBC and WBA unified middleweight title bout in Boston in 1981.

Roach said he has invited his mother and a friend to visit the Philippines while he’s in the country.

“My mother’s never been to this part of the world,” said Roach. “I’m waiting for her to confirm. If she comes, she’ll probably stay a few days in Manila to rest up then go to Baguio. What will she do in Baguio? I don’t know, maybe, read a book.”

Roach recently moved his mother out of the Las Vegas home he bought for her. She now lives beside Roach in the duplex which he owns in Los Angeles. Roach also bought a house for his brother Pepper in the Valley. Roach’s mother lived in Las Vegas where another brother Joey managed a successful telemarketing company with over 100 employees. When Joey died of a heart attack in his sleep at the age of 47 last year, Roach decided to relocate his mother.

Roach said he doesn’t see himself getting married even as he is rumored to often go out on dates with very attractive women. “My mother doesn’t think I should get married,” he chuckles. “Besides, 90 percent of marriages in the US end up in divorce.”

Roach, who has worked with at least 25 world champions, said his top five fighters at the moment are Pacquiao, WBA superlightweight champion Amir Khan of England, WBA welterweight titlist Vyacheslav Senchenko of Ukraine, Mexican lightmiddleweight contender Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and unbeaten Armenian lightmiddleweight Vanes Martirosyan.

“Amir’s the next boxing superstar,” said Roach. “He listens very well, like Manny. He’s a good student. He’s got heart, speed, power and brains. Vanes is being lined up to fight Miguel Cotto. I would never take a fight which I think my fighter couldn’t win. So yes, I think Vanes will beat Cotto. And my best young prospect is lightwelterweight Jose Benavides of Phoenix. He’s 5-11. His record is 8-0, with 8 KOs.”

But of all the fighters he’s worked with, nobody comes close to the man who changed his life. “Manny is special,” said Roach. “His work ethic hasn’t changed all these years. No one works harder in the gym. It’s unbelievable how dedicated he is to the sport. Sometimes, I try to hold him back. I don’t want him burning out. But that’s Manny. It’s good for him to enjoy some down time because he works so hard.”

Roach was a pro boxer from 1978 to 1986, retiring with a record of 40-13, including 15 KOs. Trained by the legendary Eddie Futch, he gained a reputation as a never-say-die warrior who went toe-to-toe against world champions Bobby Chacon, Greg Haugen and Camacho. Roach had no inkling he would later become a hero in the Philippines when he posted his last win ever in the ring over a Filipino – Arnel Arrozal in Lynwood, Washington, in August 1986.

Rachman to follow in Manny's footsteps? SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) Updated September 30, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (1) View comments

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – Former IBF mininumweight champion Muhammad Rachman (photo at left) has no intention of becoming the world’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter like Manny Pacquiao but he hopes to follow in the Filipino icon’s footsteps as a legislator in government.

Rachman, 38, came back from a 16-month ring layoff to lose to Iloilo’s star-on-the-rise Denver Cuello via a ninth round technical knockout at a jampacked Mindanao State University gym here Saturday night.

Like a proud warrior, Rachman refused to fall. He waited for Cuello to tire out and hoped his second wind would carry him through in the late rounds. But Cuello never wilted. And the second wind never came. Still, Rachman was on his feet when referee Bruce McTavish stepped in to halt the carnage. In another round or two, Rachman would’ve gone down for sure but McTavish didn’t want to risk unnecessary injury. While he suffered his first defeat by stoppage after 75 fights, Rachman has never been counted out off his feet.

Rachman reigned as IBF titlist in 2004-07, losing the crown to Romblon’s Florante Condes by split decision in Jakarta. He has beaten Filipinos Noel Tunacao, Ernesto Rubillar and Bert Batawang, among others, in compiling a record of 62-9-5, with 31 KOs, since turning pro in 1993 – when Cuello was only six years old.

Rachman couldn’t get on track against Cuello who was just too quick and too sharp. He was repeatedly beaten to the punch. A southpaw, Cuello landed a right straight on Rachman’s jaw and sent him back on his heels in the fifth round. Rachman tripped as he retreated, prompting a mandatory eight-count. The Indonesian was more embarrassed than hurt and quickly got up.

Rachman went to Cuello’s dressing room after the fight to congratulate the winner. He raised Cuello’s arm and said the Filipino would be the next WBC champion if Thailand’s Oleydong Sithsamerchai stakes his crown against him. Rachman lost to Oleydong on points in his previous fight.

Cuello’s manager Aljoe Jaro said he will attend the WBC convention in Cancun late next month to press for a ruling on Oleydong’s next defense. Jaro’s close friend Naris Singwangcha has offered to promote an Oleydong-Cuello WBC title fight in Bangkok but the Thai fighter is holding out.

Rachman said he will fight once more in Jakarta then retire to become a boxing promoter. He will continue his law studies at Putra Bangsa University and try his luck again in the next senatorial elections. Rachman lost in his first attempt as a senatorial candidate.

“Pacquiao lost in his first try to become congressman then won in his second attempt,” said Rachman, quoted by Jaro. “I lost in my first try but like Pacquiao, I will win in my second attempt.”

* * *

The second youngest of six children, Cuello is the family breadwinner. He lost his mother Irene, who died of a stroke in 2007, under painful circumstances. Cuello’s mother seemed in good health when he left Iloilo to defend his Philippine 105-pound title against Rollen del Castillo in Binangonan. While training for Del Castillo, his mother passed away.

“It was two days before my fight and I couldn’t leave to go home,” said Cuello. “I kept crying. I promised to bring back the belt for her.” Cuello retained the title on a third round technical draw. He made it in time for his mother’s burial.

Cuello, who pocketed P100,000 for the Rachman bout, said he will pay for the tuition of his two brothers Denmark, 25, and Dizon, 21, and send them back to school. The two brothers left school because they had no money for tuition.

“Denver’s idol is Onyok Velasco,” said Cuello’s 56-year-old father Demetrio, a printing press operator at West Visayas University, in Pilipino. “When Onyok got the silver medal in the Olympics, Denver was 10 years old. He always wanted to be like Onyok. When he was 13, Denver started to train seriously. He’s a good son, very helpful, obedient and respectful.”

* * *

McTavish, 69, is a New Zealand native who’s seeking Philippine citizenship by naturalization after living in the country for 43 years. He’s married to Carmen Tayag with two daughters Jean and Michelle and two grandchildren. The McTavish family lives in Angeles City.

McTavish’s naturalization was filed by Rep. Tarzan Lazatin three years ago but after Congress approved it, the bill was stalled during the Senate recess. It has since been re-filed by Lazatin. McTavish’s case was brought up last week but he wasn’t informed to be present.

“My wish is to be introduced in the WBC convention in Cancun next month as a Filipino, not a New Zealander,” said McTavish, a two-time Rotary past president whose pet project is feeding nearly 100 streetchildren in Angeles City every day. McTavish will conduct a seminar on officiating in Cancun. GAB boxing chief Dr. Nasser Cruz will also attend the convention as a member of the WBC medical commission.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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