Boxing's Trainer of the Year: Freddie Roach

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports
Boxing's Trainer of the Year: Freddie Roach
Boxing's Trainer of the Year: Freddie Roach

For the last quarter of a century, it's been gospel: Eddie Futch is the greatest trainer in the history of boxing.

Futch is so good that the award the Boxing Writers Association of America annually hands out to the person it picks as its top trainer is named after him.

It may be time, however, to overlook that assessment, and not because of anything derogatory about Futch, a grand master who not only trained 21 world champions, but also spawned a legion of excellent trainers.

Freddie Roach poses for a photo with Manny Pacquiao before a training session. (Getty)
Freddie Roach poses for a photo with Manny Pacquiao before a training session. (Getty)

For all his brilliance, Futch's best work was Freddie Roach, a modest talent who was far tougher than he was talented as a fighter and who never came close to winning a world title.

But when the end of Roach's fighting career was at hand, Futch didn't give up on him. He mentored Roach and helped turn Roach into his successor as the best trainer in the world.

Roach has become so good, he might have even surpassed Futch as the greatest trainer who has ever lived.

That's a big step, but it's undeniable the impact Roach has had over the years on the fighters who work regularly with him. They're almost always more complete, better fighters than they were before they worked with him.

He was as good as ever in 2014, not only putting Manny Pacquiao back on the upswing but also helping Miguel Cotto to the middleweight championship.

In 2013, Pacquiao fought just once, a victory over Brandon Rios in Macau, China. But he looked more like a fading veteran than he did a superstar who should be regarded as one of the best two or three fighters in the world.

Roach recognized things weren't where they should be, and he set out to change them. And in 2014, Pacquiao turned himself into a Fighter of the Year candidate with a comprehensive victory over the great Timothy Bradley and a domination of Chris Algieri.

In his two fights in 2014, Pacquiao scored six knockdowns and won 60 of 72 scored rounds in defeating back-to-back unbeaten opponents.

Cotto only fought once, but won every round in taking the middleweight title from Sergio Martinez. He knocked him down three times in the first and battered the legendary Argentinian star for nine complete rounds so that Martinez couldn't answer the bell for the 10th.

Clearly, Roach made a major difference in both men, and for that, he's the clear choice as the Yahoo Sports Trainer of the Year.

He's become a guru of sorts, and managers and promoters beg him to work with their fighters, particularly those who need a quick fix.

Roach is good at providing that, but he's at his best when he gets a fighter and works with him over the long haul.

Miguel Cotto gets his hand raised by trainer Freddie Roach after stopping Delvin Rodriguez. (Top Rank)
Miguel Cotto gets his hand raised by trainer Freddie Roach after stopping Delvin Rodriguez. (Top Rank)

One of the things that made Futch great was that there were few, if any, who were ever better in devising a game plan for a fighter. Futch had the ability to break down an opponent and find a way for his fighter to attack the weaknesses.

Futch was brilliant in the corner in giving advice and making adjustments, but he was also a highly respected teacher who made his fighters technically better day after day in the gym.

Roach similarly understands boxing at such a level that he is able to improve his fighters' fundamentals and then put them into the best position to win their bouts.

It's probably heresy to suggest that Roach has surpassed Futch, given the length of time Futch spent at the top.

This much, though, is true: If Futch is No. 1, Roach is unquestionably 1-A. As an entry, they're unbeatable.

It's why there was no other reasonable choice for the 2014 Yahoo Sports Trainer of the Year than Freddie Roach.

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