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October 25, 2014

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No. 3: Trainers’ stories hidden behind trash talk

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Steve Marcus

Boxing promoter Oscar De La Hoya, center, poses with Freddie Roach left, trainer for Manny Pacquiao of Philippines, and Floyd Mayweather Sr., trainer for Ricky Hatton of England during a news conference at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada April 29, 2009. Hatton and Pacquiao will meet for a 12-round, junior welterweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday.

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Boxers Manny Pacquiao, far left, of the Philippines, and Ricky Hatton, far right, of England, pose with their trainers Freddie Roach, center left, and Floyd Mayweather Sr., who lift a specialized trophy for the "No. 1 Pound for Pound Best Trainer in the World" during a news conference in Hollywood, California March 30, 2009. Hatton and Pacquiao will meet for a junior welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 2.

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Editor's Note: Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton, boxing's top two international superstars, square off in "The Battle of East and West" on May 2 at the MGM Grand. In the days leading up to this blockbuster bout, the Las Vegas Sun is presenting a Top 10 countdown of key points of interest for Pacquiao vs. Hatton.

If the two trainers could ever get past their trash talking personas, the public might get an insider’s look into their real personalities.

What one may find out is despite all of Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Freddie Roach’s agreed upon differences, the two are more similar than they would like to admit.

Both are former pros (Mayweather Sr. posted a 29-6-1 record with 19 knockouts during a 10-year career from 1974-84, while Roach went 39-13 with 15 KOs, from 1978 to 1986), whose love for the sport has yet to let them leave it.

Roach and Mayweather are two of the top trainers in the world, representing such esteemed clients over the years as Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Michael Moorer, Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson.

Both are battling illnesses as Roach suffers from Parkinson's disease while Mayweather Sr. is infected with sarcoidosis, a disease hampered by the dusty desert conditions that has attacked his lungs making it difficult to breath.

Roach admits he’s got a real soft spot for Pacquiao, who he says is like “a son.” Mayweather, on the other hand, has had a very public falling out with his son, former world champ Floyd Mayweather Jr., but says he believes someday in the near future they will reconcile and rebuild a relationship.

But both ultimately know that in the grand scheme of things Saturday night, their roles mean very little.

“I’m tired of taking the fight away from the fighters that’s why I chose not to say anything today,” Roach said at a Wednesday press conference.

“This is the Pacquiao-Hatton story, not the Roach-Mayweather story. Who gives a (expletive) about what we have to say.”

Well anyone who needs a quote or a sound byte for starters, and the two trainers have been plenty eager to please in the department in building up “The Battle of East and West.”

While Hatton and Pacquiao have been as cordial as possible to each other in their public encounters, the two trainers have provided nonstop verbal jabs at each publicity stop.

Mayweather Sr. will kick in with his custom “Freddie ‘The Joke Coach' Roach” line and Roach will inevitably fire back with a stinging point of how Mayweather’s brother, Roger, is the trainer responsible for Floyd Jr.’s tremendous success.

“‘24/7’ gave us the role of (promoting the fight) because we gave them what they wanted to hear in terms of hype,” Roach said. “But we really do dislike each other.”

Hatton has laughed off his trainer’s verbal proclamations, saying the sidebar battle has only added to the May 2 megafight.

“It would be a very boring sport if we didn’t have personalities like this,” Hatton said.

“We’ve got two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world fighting, and arguably two of the best trainers in the world fighting. They just want to get one over on each other. I wouldn’t read too much into it. They’re both excellent coaches.”

But on Saturday night, only one man can walk out of the MGM with the coveted "No. 1 Pound for Pound Best Trainer in the World" trophy made especially for Mayweather Sr. and Roach.

“No diggity, no doubt,” rapped Mayweather, when asked who would win the coveted hardware.

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