, the trainer who has prepared Manny Pacquiao to step into the ring against Floyd Mayweather for the biggest fight of his life, wages his own constant war against Parkinson’s Disease.
The strategy in his personal battle is simple, Roach said Thursday.
“The first thing is not to lay down and die,” he said.
It’s not always easy, however.
He keeps up with hand-eye coordination exercises that help keep the disease at bay.
But as Pacquiao’s long-awaited showdown with Mayweather loomed, Roach told Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper last week that the effects of the illness—and the medication used to keep it in check —had contributed to suicidal thoughts.
The best way he’s found to battle them is work, and none has been more fulfilling than his time with Pacquiao.
The seven-time winner of US boxing’s Trainer of the Year award has seen it all as a cornerman to the world’s greatest fighters.
But his partnership with Pacquiao has added an extra dimension to his Hall of Fame career.
They teamed up in 2001, when little-known Pacquiao needed a place to train in the United States and tried Roach’s modest Wild Card Gym in Hollywood.
Roach was surprised that when he asked to see tape of Pacquiao fighting, Pacman produced video of two knockout defeats.
Roach asked him why and Pacquiao told him simply “it’s part of my life.”
Despite that unconvincing calling card, Roach was quickly convinced that Pacquiao was a special talent.
“We worked mitts together,” he recalled. “I was so impressed with his power and his speed. We’ve been together for 15 years now and it’s been a great 15.”
Over that time Pacquiao has evolved into a global superstar, a world champion in eight weight classes who is a hero — and congressman — in his homeland and a money-spinning celebrity in the United States.
Roach’s relationship with Pacquiao has evolved as well, from a father figure in the early days to their current close friendship.
Saturday’s bout will be the culmination of that partnership — a fight the two have been planning and strategizing for more than five years.
Roach has painstakingly studied fight films, pinpointing potential Mayweather weaknesses to exploit and priming Pacquiao to do so.
As the fighters themselves, belying years of animosity between their camps, have largely eschewed the usual trash-talking taunts that precede a big fight, Roach has embraced the role of instigator with his barbed assessments of Mayweather’s skills.
He said Pacquiao has been “on fire” in training camp at the Wild Card — in a strip mall a few blocks down from the fabled Hollywood and Vine intersection of movie business lore.
“We’ve had a lot of fun,” Roach said. “We always have a lot of fun.”
Not long after the bout was announced, Roach said it posed the biggest challenge of his life.
But he balked Thursday at calling it a “must-win” to validate his and Pacquiao’s legacies.
“I don’t think our careers are over if we lose to a great fighter like Mayweather,” Roach said.
Then again, Roach doesn’t expect that to happen.
If Pacquiao justifies his faith with a win, many will give Roach a big share of the credit — although his own assessment of his virtues was modest.
“I think I’m as good a coach as anybody,” Roach said. “I take pride in my work. I hate to lose.”