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GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – It was indeed a happy birthday for Freddie Roach, who celebrated his 54th at the Pacman Wild Card Gym in General Santos City, Philippines.
Roach, who is in GenSan training Manny Pacquiao for his April 12 rematch with WBO welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley, was ambushed by Pacquiao and a gym full of trainers and spectators with a rendition of “Happy Birthday,” which was accompanied by a guitar player and cake on Thursday afternoon. (READ: Aggressive Pacquiao impresses birthday boy Roach in sparring)
Roach, who has won the Boxing Writers Association of America Trainer of the Year award a record six times, couldn’t help but break out a smile as he was serenaded by the 100 or so people in attendance, who were on hand to watch Pacquiao spar with American-born lightweight prospect Lydell Rhodes.
Once the singing died down, Pacquiao got down to business. The 8-division world champion sparred 7 rounds with Rhodes before working the pads for 10 rounds with Roach. At one point Pacquiao hit Roach’s chest protector so hard that he drew a gasp from Roach.
Pacquiao responded with a smile, “Sorry Freddie, it’s for your birthday.” – Rappler.com
Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com. An archive of his work can be found at ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.