Why Freddie Roach thinks Manny Pacquiao should retire

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist

Freddie Roach told Yahoo Sports on Monday that he suggested to former champion Manny Pacquiao that he should retire, and said that if the Filipino superstar chooses to fight on, he should do a rematch with Jeff Horn before walking away from boxing for good.

Roach, in Hawaii on Monday on his way home from Brisbane, Australia, where he cornered Pacquiao on Saturday in his WBO welterweight title bout with the unbeaten Horn at Suncorp Stadium, said it bothers him that Pacquiao’s late-career struggles are impacting his legacy.

Pacquiao, 38, lost a unanimous decision Saturday by scores of 115-113 twice and 117-111.

“It does bother me,” Roach said. “That’s why I suggested to Manny, ‘Hey Manny, I think you should retire,’ ” Roach said. “He said, ‘Well, what about fighting a rematch with this guy?’ I said, ‘Well, maybe a rematch, but then that’s it.’ There can be no more [fights with Floyd] Mayweather and so forth.

“I would suggest to Manny that he retire now, but he wants to have that rematch in a neutral area, maybe in the Philippines. As a going-away party, I think that would be great, but then that’s it.”

Freddie Roach (L) consults with Manny Pacquiao during a news conference. (Getty)

The bout was very physical, Roach said, and Pacquiao no longer has the legs to take him through that battle. Pacquiao had Horn badly hurt in the ninth round, so much so that referee Mark Nelson went to Horn’s corner and warned him he was thinking of stopping it.

Roach called the ninth “a terrific round, a great one,” for Pacquiao and said he urged him between rounds to pick up the pressure in the 10th.

“I told Manny, ‘If you give me another one of those, this fight is over,’ ” Roach said. “I said ‘If you give me one more round like that, you’ll finish him,’ but he just couldn’t do it. Getting older sucks, and it happens to everyone sooner or later.”

Roach wasn’t happy with Nelson’s work and thought he allowed Horn to get away with dirty tactics, though he acknowledged that it was a good strategy and that fighting dirty has always worked against Pacquiao. He noted the struggles that Pacquiao had earlier in his career in a fight with Agapito Sanchez.

Pacquiao was elected to the Filipino congress in 2010 and again in 2013, and Roach said that work didn’t interfere with his boxing duties significantly.

But he was elected to the senate last year and that has been a big difference, Roach said. The responsibilities of his job are much greater than they were when he was in Congress, and training almost always took a back seat.

Plus, Roach said that Pacquiao wore down his body by trying to recapture what he had in the past when he was a dazzling combination of speed and power.

“I told him that the way his career is going, being a leader in his country and being a senator and dealing with all the responsibilities that come with that, he might have to give up boxing,” Roach said. “Boxing is a very physical sport and a very rough sport and having two jobs like he has is so tough. He’s just always going like crazy.

“Sometimes, he’ll get out early, at 3 and we can go train, but there are a lot of times, it’s not until 9 or 10 that he gets out and then we have to train. He still has that work ethic he always had, but I’ll tell you the truth. I think that might be a problem. He wants to be what he was before, and he overtrains and when he gets to the fight, he doesn’t have what he expects to have. His answer is always to do more, more, more, but when you get to a certain age, you have to listen to your body and he hasn’t learned that yet.”

Roach said he thought Pacquiao won despite the problems on Saturday, but Roach didn’t have a particularly big problem with the two judges who scored the bout 115-113 in favor of Horn. He did, though, take issue with judge Waleska Roldan, who favored Horn 117-111.

He said that score was unconscionable.

“There should be an investigation into that,” he said. “How could you come up with that kind of score? What did you see that nobody else saw?”

Pacquiao, who turns 39 in December, is 58-7-2 in a 22-year pro career. He’s won titles in eight weight classes and won the linear championship in a record five divisions.