MANILA, Philippines – Freddie Roach admitted Manny Pacquiao "avoided" him immediately after the Filipino fighter lost via unanimous decision to Jeff Horn in Brisbane, Australia.
Speaking to Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated, Pacquiao's longtime trainer gave a glimpse into the state of the 8-division champion on the heels of a fight whose result was widely disputed.
"Manny wasn’t himself," Roach was quoted as saying. "He didn’t look like the Manny Pacquiao I’ve known for a long time."
According to Roach, the 38-year-old boxer-turned-politician stood in front of a mirror in the bathroom of his locker room, his eyes fixated on his hair as he combed it over a cut on his head – a battle wound courtesy of Horn.
The 57-year-old bared he couldn't get a read of Pacquiao at the time and says he hasn't yet been paid his salary for the fight.
"I really don’t know if he’s mad at me," he said. "But I can tell you this: I haven’t been paid yet. So who knows?"
Many believed Pacquiao to have won the fight, including Roach. But many observers also saw a different version of him against Horn. Concerns about his youth slipping away became headlines and talk of retirement – especially amid his duties as Senator of the Philippines – grew louder than ever.
"I was trying to see where his head was at," said Roach, who has reportedly claimed in the past that he'd be honest with Pacquiao when it comes time for him to hang up his gloves. "And I could not even get him to say hi to me. I don’t know if he was upset with me or what."
Roach attested to the change in the air when he described the "chaos" that unfolded in Pacquiao's corner during the fight, with Buboy Fernandez, Pacquiao's confidant, acting "hysterical," while cutman Miguel Diaz kept yelling.
Roach said in the story he thought perhaps Pacquiao sensed his trainer might urge him to end his celebrated 22-year pro boxing career.
"Maybe that’s what he thought I was there to tell him," explained Roach, who has trained Pacquiao since 2001.
"But I wouldn’t pick that moment. There were a lot of people. I wouldn’t embarrass anybody like that.” But try as Roach might, Pacquiao didn’t look at or respond to him. “Like he wanted his hair to be perfect."
"He was definitely avoiding me," he added.