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Page last updated at 06:57 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 07:57 UK

Trainers throwing the pre-fight bombs

Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, USA
Date: Sunday 3 May
Start: Approx 0400 BST Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, reports and photos on BBC Sport website, TV coverage on Sky Sports (pay-per-view)

Freddie Roach, Manny Pacquiao, Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather Sr
Roach (left) and Mayweather (right) have been heavily involved in the build-up to the fight

By Ben Dirs
BBC Sport in Las Vegas

How did it come to this - the build-up to the biggest fight of 2009 hijacked and overshadowed by two ageing trainers unashamedly acting like playground rivals?

Both men are debilitated by disease and long in the tooth after years in the game as fighters and trainers - so should both men know better?

Floyd Mayweather Sr, who will be in Ricky Hatton's corner at the MGM Grand in the early hours of Sunday morning, mocks his opposite number in rhyme. Freddie Roach, Manny Pacquiao's chief second, taunts Mayweather with talk of his unprecedented three trainer-of-the-year awards.

Meanwhile, the men who will be doing the actual fighting in Las Vegas have remained largely cordial, largely respectful - which, of course, partly explains the above.

As Drew Bundini Brown, "cheerleader" for Muhammad Ali, once put it: "You can't cook if the stove ain't hot, and Bundini puts the right things in the soup."

Mayweather Sr told BBC Sport: "I'm the motivator, elevator, creator of boxing, and that's what he [Roach] can't do. I'm the best in the west, I must confess, for all the rest there's no contest.

He had a lot of big fighters but he hasn't done anything with them

Mayweather Sr on Roach

"I'm electrified, bona fide, qualified and it's got the world petrified, hypnotised and mesmerised. That's the way it goes.

"He's Freddie 'Joke Coach' Roach, I could teach you in two days to be a better trainer than him.

"They've got Roach in the hall of fame, he should be in the hall of shame. Who has he really worked with?

"He had a lot of big fighters but he hasn't done anything with them. What fighter has he made? I made my son [Floyd Jr, who beat Hatton in 2007], he hasn't made anyone."

Roach countered: "Floyd can read some good poems, but that's all he's good at that I know of.

"What has Floyd Sr achieved? His son was a natural born fighter, and his [Floyd Sr's] brother Roger trained him anyway. Floyd never trained his son for a world title fight.

"He trained Oscar de la Hoya after Oscar had already won four world titles. Floyd is a legend in his own mind."

The two men have even resorted to arguing as to who was the better fighter, with Mayweather Sr - a decent pro who went 10 rounds with Sugar Ray Leonard in 1978, shortly before being shot in the leg while holding his son - labelling Roach "a bum".

Freddie Roach and Manny Pacquiao
Roach has been preparing Pacquiao at his Wild Card gym in LA

Roach, a crowd-pleasing blue-collar fighter who took too many punches and went on far too long, says: "I was on TV a lot more than him, I was more popular than he was."

De la Hoya is believed to be central to the animosity between Roach and Mayweather Sr. In 2007, Mayweather Sr was said to have demanded US$2m to train De la Hoya for his fight against Mayweather Jr, but De la Hoya rejected the offer and installed Roach instead.

But there are also reputations at stake. Mayweather has claimed he "taught Ricky Hatton how to box", that when he first hooked up with him, seven weeks before his last fight with Paulie Malignaggi, Hatton was "horrendous".

Not only is that hugely disrespectful to Hatton's previous trainer, Billy Graham, but it is also not true.

Mayweather Sr has unearthed a fine old painting and restored it, reminding Hatton of things he had forgotten. Mainly basics like moving his head and feet and using his jab.

Nevertheless, Mayweather Sr, who trained his son until a family rift in 2000 led Floyd Jr into the arms of uncle Roger, will receive much kudos if Hatton, back to being a "moving, grooving, thinking fighter", manages to defeat Pacquiao.

Roach was trained by the legendary Eddie Futch, who also trained Joe Frazier and Bob Foster among many others, before being given his big break as a trainer himself by the actor-turned-boxer Mickey Rourke.

He trained Rourke for eight pro fights, before the star of 9½ Weeks decided to call it quits and gift his mentor his Hollywood gym. From that point on, the Wild Card Boxing Club has been a breeding ground of champions, from Steve Collins to James Toney to Britain's Amir Khan.

Roach admits Pacquiao was already a fine fighter when he walked into his gym in 2001, but there is no doubt that under Roach he has become a better one, more sound defensively, with a vastly improved right hand.


It should also not be forgotten that, although relatively young, both trainers are entering the twilight of their respective careers.

Mayweather Sr is battling an incurable lung disease while Roach, who already relies heavily on his assistant Michael Moorer, is slowly succumbing to Parkinson's. As a result, both men already have one eye on their legacies.

Of course, and as I have touched on before, there are more prosaic reasons for the mud-slinging, which Mayweather Sr, pulling the curtain aside and revealing all the buttons and levers behind boxing's hype machine, has more or less admitted to.

"This is a fight, man, this is a build-up, that's all it is to me," he says. "Even if you look back to Ali, everything is a build-up. I don't have anything against Freddie, I think he's a real nice guy, but right now this is warfare and I'm gonna do whatever it takes to win.

"[Pacquiao's promoter] Bob Arum said 'have fun with it', and that's what I'm doing."

Arum, who's been around since Ali's day, knows that while Hatton v Pacquiao is as big as they come in the fighters' respective countries, to the people of the United States, it's a little British guy against a little Filipino guy, and that doesn't necessarily sell.

But with a couple of American trainers heating up the stove, everyone - including the trainers themselves - stands to earn a lot more money. And in boxing, that's always the bottom line.

see also
Hatton enjoys 'best form of life'
29 Apr 09 |  Boxing
Hatton-Pacquiao predictions
28 Apr 09 |  Boxing
Beasts from the East
24 Apr 09 |  Boxing
Hatton slams Pacquiao credentials
21 Apr 09 |  Boxing
Mayweather Sr to stay with Hatton
27 Mar 09 |  Boxing
Hatton relishes Pacquiao showdown
29 Jan 09 |  Boxing
Hatton's Pacquiao fight confirmed
26 Jan 09 |  Boxing
Pacquiao stops 'empty' De la Hoya
07 Dec 08 |  Boxing
Slick Hatton defeats Malignaggi
23 Nov 08 |  Boxing
Pacquiao claims lightweight title
29 Jun 08 |  Boxing

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