Pacquiao’s assistant trainer not seeking to replace 'legendary' Freddie Roach

MANILA, Philippines – The Manny Pacquiao ship has lost its captain in Freddie Roach, so Buboy Fernandez has been filling in the void. 

That's how Fernandez puts it as he takes over Pacquiao's training camp for the meantime with the Filipino boxing star yet to decide whether to have Freddie Roach as his chief cornerman for his July 15 bout against Argentinian Lucas Matthysse.

"As an assistant trainer, tatayuan mo muna, kumbaga walang kapitan 'yung barko niyo, ikaw muna ang magdadala," said Fernandez. 

(As an assistant trainer, you have to man the post. The ship has no captain so you have to take over.) 

Fernandez has been Pacquiao's assistant trainer for more than two decades. But more than that, he is the boxer-turned-senator's childhood friend and confidant. 

Buboy Fernandez says age is not an issue as the 39-year-old Manny Pacquiao faces the 35-year-old Lucas Matthysse. #PACQUIAOxMATTHYSSE @RapplerSports — delfin dioquino (@dioquinodelfin) April 18, 2018

Reports surfaced last week that Pacquiao did not include Roach, who has been with "Pac Man" since 2001, in his training camp for his World Boxing Association regular welterweight title fight against Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur. 

Roach, a 7-time Boxing Writers Association of America Trainer of the Year, said he was "hurt" by the decision but Pacquiao dismissed the issue, saying he is still mulling if the 58-year-old American will be a part of his team.

"Freddie and I are like family. We're like close family. I didn't make any decision yet about Freddie Roach," said Pacquiao during a press conference at the City of Dreams in Paranaque on Wednesday, April 18. 

"But if, assuming I will make a decision about Freddie Roach and choose Buboy Fernandez as head coach for this fight, I'm still not closing the door on Freddie. We just want to try and experience how Buboy will handle this one fight."

"After that, we go back to Freddie. I mean, if I will make a decision. But right now, I haven't made a decision yet." 

Fernandez, although admitting he is "proud" of himself for Pacquiao's trust in him, said no one, not even him, could replace Roach. 

"Hindi ko pwedeng ikumpara 'yung sarili ko kay coach Freddie. Freddie Roach is legendary. Wala na akong na-meet na ibang tao pa na pinakamagaling na trainer, si coach Freddie lang," said Fernandez. 

(I cannot compare myself to coach Freddie. Freddie Roach is legendary. I have not met anyone who is as great as coach Freddie.)

Pacquiao's training starts next week in his hometown in General Santos City and Fernandez said they have been keeping tabs on Matthysse's fighting style for a while now.

Matthysee is an aggressive fighter with 36 of his 39 wins coming in the way of the knockout and Fernandez is confident he is just the right opponent for Pacquiao. 

"Gusto namin 'yung hindi tumatakabo, kumbaga lamang tayo sa galawan. Kung ganoon 'yung style niya na banggaan talaga, 'yun 'yung matagal na nating hinahanap." 

(We want someone who does not run because we are ahead in that department. If Matthysse's style is to slug it out, that is what we have long been looking for.) –

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.