Pacquiao clarifies his split with trainer Roach is not final

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Philippine senator and boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, left, and Argentine WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse pose for photographers as they hold the WBA welterweight champion belt during a press conference in Manila.

Philippine senator and boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, left, and Argentine WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse pose for photographers as they hold the WBA welterweight champion belt during a press conference in Manila. (Photo: AP)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Manny Pacquiao hasn't entirely turned his back on a 16-year working relationship with trainer Freddie Roach.

The eight-division world champion said he will be trained by Restituto "Buboy" Fernandez and Raides "Nonoy" Neri for his fight against Lucas Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs) for the World Boxing Association welterweight title in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 15, but that it was on an experimental basis.

"I am still not closing the door for Freddie," Pacquiao said Wednesday. "We just want to try and experience that Buboy will handle this one fight and after that go back to Freddie — I mean if I will make a decision, but right now I didn't make a final decision yet."

Pacquiao disclosed his decision for this fight last week in the final sentence of a news release.

Roach said he didn't officially learn about the split until Pacquiao's announcement, and the veteran trainer issued a bittersweet statement heralding the end of one of the most durable partnerships in a notoriously fickle sport. Roach had been in Pacquiao's corner for 34 consecutive fights since his U.S. debut in 2001.

Pacquiao, in his first news conference since then, said he wanted to clarify the situation.

Philippine senator and boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, left, and Argentine WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse. Photo/AP
Philippine senator and boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, left, and Argentine WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse. Photo/AP

"Freddie and I are like a family. We're like a close family and I didn't make up any decision yet about Freddie Roach," he said.

Pacquiao frequently credited Roach for his evolution from a raw Filipino puncher into an eight-division world champion during countless hours of work in Roach's Wild Card Gym in Hollywood.

But the 39-year-old Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) has had four losses in his last nine bouts and has had a noticeable decrease in the hand speed that made him an incredible fighter. He lost a decision to Floyd Mayweather in 2015, and he lost another to unheralded Australian Jeff Horn in his final bout with Roach last July.

Pacquiao, who is also a senator in the Philippines, is determined to extend his career and has opted for a change this time.

"My time is not done yet," he said. "That's what I am trying to prove July 15 — that Manny Pacquiao is not done yet in boxing."

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