|A Test for the Teacher
By JD Camacho, DoghouseBoxing.com (July 18, 2009)
In a 2000 article by David Remnick, a come-backing Michael Moorer said he was happy with his then-new trainer Freddie Roach, saying that “Freddie allows me to be me.” Amir Khan, the latest come-backing charge from perhaps boxing’s premier trainer, faces the opposite challenge. Khan is a flawed fighter, a former amateur star who often threw when it was in his best interest to move, who preferred to flow with his fists rather than dance with his feet. If Roach allows Khan to be Khan, the precocious British superstar will lose to WBA junior welterweight titleholder Andreas Kotelnik on Saturday night.
Trainers have a tricky job. They have to - more than any other coach in any other sport - straddle the line between instruction and motivation, between scorn and relief, between calm and urgency. Even with the most talented of students, professors of the sweet science may find difficulty in cultivating lasting achievement from ring rawness.
Take the evolution of boxing’s resident sports ascendant Manny Pacquiao. As the crowning jewel in Roach’s fistic headdress, Manny Pacquiao is a complete boxer, with a currently unmatched combination of speed, power, footwork, and savvy. And yet, though Pacquiao’s been with Roach for almost a decade and though he has been a professional for even longer, he’s only developed these abilities in recent years. Perhaps his loss to Erik Morales, his last recorded defeat, put Pacquiao in his place. Perhaps Morales provided the catalyst for the pugilistic product that now sits atop the pound-for-pound rankings. If Morales was the catalyst, Roach must have been the key reactant.
Does Khan need the same type of push to start listening to Roach? After all, he’s already suffered a loss a defeat worse than any Pacquiao has ever had to endure. And while Khan looked good against the ancient Barrera with Roach in his corner, the Mexican legend offered little resistance and little test for Khan.
What will happen in the corner during those tough moments against Kotelnik? Will there even be any tough moments on Saturday? Some say the true test of a trainer is his effectiveness on fight night. Some say all the teaching and training mean nothing without the result. All that hubbub about American heavyweight Eddie Chambers’ career best conditioning would have been forgotten had Chambers’ new chief second Rob Murray been unable to push his fighter through those championship rounds last time out. If Khan is tagged on his reportedly brittle chin, how will he react?
And perhaps just as important: How will Roach react?
-Arturo Gatti’s death was highly unusual and unnecessarily violent. A man that had breathed that much violence in his life didn’t deserve such a sadistic end. Someone once called Gatti “the truth.” For spirit, for heart, for blood and guts, there was nary a truer warrior in boxing than Arturo Gatti. Rest in peace…
-I’ve always liked how the UFC offers knockout bonuses for their fighters. What’s stopping boxing promoters from doing that, again? It couldn’t hurt…the fans, I mean…
-And while we’re on the topic, boxing DOES NOT need to derail the MMA freight train. Boxing runs on its own track, and its railroad needs a lot of work…
-This super middleweight tournament is excellent. I still don’t see how Arthur Abraham is the favorite to many writers, though. Why would you pick the guy who’s fought almost all of his fights at middleweight over five other career super middleweights? Abraham hasn’t even fought the best overall competition. Abraham has the eminently beatable Jermain Taylor up first. I need to see something special to pick Abraham over all the others…
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