Roach declines comment on Justin tirade

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Roach declines comment on Justin tirade
Freddie Roach
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — There’s a brewing split between Freddie Roach. and Justin Fortune in the wake of Manny Pacquiao’s recent loss to WBA welterweight super champion Yordenis Ugas with Buboy Fernandez caught in the middle but the rift within the Filipino icon’s team may not be a serious cause for concern particularly as he’s in the twilight of his storybook boxing career.

Fortune, who has served as Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach since the first Marco Antonio Barrera fight in 2003, said the other day he’ll never work with Roach again. In 2007, they parted ways because of money issues and were close to going to court but got back together in 2014. After Pacquiao’s defeat to Jeff Horn in 2017, Roach was sidelined and Fernandez took over as head coach with Fortune still in the team. In 2018, Pacquiao scored a knockout over Lucas Matthysse with Fernandez and Fortune in his corner. Then, Roach returned for Pacquiao’s fights against Adrien Broner, Keith Thurman and Ugas.

This time, Fortune said there’s no coming back and money isn’t the issue. Apparently, Fortune said he was blamed by Roach for Pacquiao’s loss because of cramps. Fortune said Roach’s accusations weren’t factual and he should have at least confronted him face to face. That was the last straw, Fortune said.

“When (Errol) Spence was replaced by Ugas, Freddie kept (Giovanni) Cabrera and (Ivan) Redkach who’re both southpaws as sparmates and got them to box orthodox,” said Fortune. “He brought in right-handers Arnold Gonzales and Abie Lopez for the last few sessions but it didn’t help. There are thousands of guys out there who fight like Ugas. One guy is Petr Khamukov, an undefeated Russian with long arms like Ugas. He could’ve been brought in.”

Fortune said Fernandez is ready to take over as Pacquiao’s head coach from Roach. “Buboy knows his stuff and he knows Manny, they’re best friends forever,” he said. “Manny understands Buboy. There’s nothing Buboy wouldn’t do for his best friend. If he has to be in the middle during timeouts, then he should be in, not Freddie.”

Roach’s publicist Fred Sternberg said commenting on Fortune’s rants would be unproductive. “Freddie told me he will respect Manny’s wishes and not respond to these types of interviews Justin is giving,” said Sternberg. “Freddie agrees with Manny that it’s unproductive.” There will be no comment from Roach regarding Fortune’s statement that he’ll never work with the trainer nor set foot at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles ever again. MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons said the tirade is “just ridiculous” and “the Senator doesn’t deserve this nonsense ... I couldn’t agree more (to decline comment).”

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