By John F. McKenna (McJack)
2011 will probably not be a year that five time Trainer of the Year and recent Hall of Fame inductee Freddie Roach will fondly remember. The perception at the beginning of 2011 was that anything Freddie Roach touched turn to gold. What a difference a year makes.
In May Roach’s star pupil WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KO’s) took on a clearly over the hill Shane Mosley. Pacquiao dominated Mosley as expected and floored Shane in the 3rd round. After the knockdown however Pacquiao chased Mosley around the ring and could not take him out as expected. “Pacman” was hampered by leg cramping which prevented him from using the lateral movement boxing fans have been accustomed to seeing him use. Granted Manny won a one sided decision but it was not one of his stellar performances.
Things turned around for a brief time in July when Roach’s other star pupil Amir Khan defeated Zab Judah in impressive fashion by knocking Judah out in the 5th round. After Khan’s victory over Judah, Roach publicly stated that within 18 months Amir would be the #1 Pound for Pound fighter in the world. It was a pretty bold statement and at that point everything was looking up for Roach.
After that however things began to fall apart for Roach when his fighter lightweight prospect Jorge Linares who had helped Pacquiao prepare for his fight with WBO/WBA lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez (53-6-1, 39 KO’s) was KO’d in the 11th round by Antonio Demarco in a fight for the vacant WBC lightweight title.
Then there was the second sub par performance in a row by Pacquiao. On November 12 he won a hotly disputed decision over Marquez in a fight most boxing pundits thought that Manny lost. Roach had openly stated that Pacquiao was so much improved over the fighter who faced Marquez in 2008 that he might KO Juan in the 1st round. Things did not go exactly as Roach had planned. Pacquiao again suffered from leg cramping, but the bottom line was that Team Pacquiao had no antidote for Marquez’ defensive strategy or his counter punching ability.
To culminate the bad run by Roach, this past Saturday night now former WBA/IBF light welterweight champion Amir Khan (26-2, 18 KO’s) lost a controversial decision to new WBA/IBF light welterweight champion Lamont Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KO’s). Khan instead of acknowledging the mistakes he made in looking past Peterson to potential future opponents chose to complain about the referee. He even went so far as to criticize the city in which the fight was being held, saying bad officiating was the reason no fights has been held in Washington D.C. for such a long time. It was not a moment of class for Khan.