Franchise Thoughts: Who's the Better Trainer, Freddie Roach or Floyd Mayweather Sr.?

Kevin Iole's most recent boxing mailbag for Yahoo! Sports leads off with a look at an intriguing subplot to the upcoming Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton fight: the rivalry between trainers Freddie Roach and Floyd Mayweather Sr.

It's no secret that the two men don't have high opinions of each other. Iole mentioned that Roach started the verbal sparring this time by saying he'd be more worried about Hatton if he was trained by Roger Mayweather, a remark intended to get under the skin of Floyd Sr. given his contentious relationship with his brother.

Mayweather has yet to really let loose for this fight, but in the past has given Roach little credit for his accomplishments, downplaying his role in molding champions like James Toney and Pacquiao. With Floyd you get the sense that some of his posturing is strictly for show, but there's little doubt that he means it when he calls himself the best trainer in boxing.

Trying to figure out who is the "best" trainer is largely a subjective matter because there are so many factors that go into the trainer-boxer relationship that are difficult to quantify. It's also not just a two-horse race - Nazim Richardson, just to name one, would deserve some consideration after his work with Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley.

Still, there are a few different areas where you can stack Roach and Floyd Sr. up head to head to see where they stand, and that's exactly what I did to formulate my own opinion:

Top fighters trained:

At first glance, I was ready to give this category to Roach. The list of fighters he's worked with at some point in their careers sometimes seems endless, and includes huge names like Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Hopkins, and, of course, Pacquiao. But Roach was sometimes a short-term solution for many boxers, and it's hard to determine how much impact a trainer has when he is in the corner for just a fight or two.

Mayweather trained his son Floyd Jr. during his formative years and worked with De La Hoya when he was the most dominant force (at least economically) in the sport. He also currently trains Chad Dawson, who's getting increasing support as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters today. (Uatu note: Eddie Mustafa Muhammad trained Dawson for the Dawson-Tarver fight.)

Advantage: Push


At least publicly, both men do a great job propping up their fighters' confidence levels. They go about it a bit differently, with Roach preferring to make simple statements that he has a winning plan and Mayweather opting for brash, sometimes comical boasts.

Floyd Sr. clearly loves being the center of attention, but I think he's also crafty enough to know that he can take some pressure off his boxers by putting it on himself. Roach is starting to show a similar side to his game with his comments leading up to the De La Hoya-Pacquiao bout, but Mayweather really has it down pat.

Advantage: Mayweather

Power to transform:

Conveniently, the boxer each man is currently training provides some of the best insight into this category. Roach's impact on Pacquiao has been undeniable, changing Manny from a one-dimensional destroyer (albeit a really good one) into a complete package. Footwork, spacing, variety of punches... virtually every part of Pacquiao's game has improved under Roach's tutelage.

Mayweather may be working a similar makeover on Hatton; it's just too soon to tell. The Hitman showed a much greater range of skills when he took out Paulie Malignaggi last November, but that was the first time Floyd Sr. was in his corner.

If Hatton gets past Pacquiao, that may give Mayweather the nod here, but for now, Roach gets the edge.

Advantage: Roach

Reputation and intangibles:

Simply put, Roach is the hottest trainer in the sport. Pacquiao is considered by most reputable sources to be the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, and even people outside the sport, like MMA fighter Andrei Arlovski, are seeking Roach's counsel.

On top of that, Roach seems like a guy who genuinely has the best interests of his fighters at heart. He's been very vocal about the more unsavory characters in Team Pacquiao and has tried to ensure Manny hasn't been taken advantage of financially.

By contrast, Mayweather comes across as much more of a mercenary, concerned primarily with his paycheck and his status. It almost goes without saying that his dysfunctional family ties always threaten to be huge headaches at any time.

Advantage: Roach

That's obviously a very simplified analysis, but it's enough for me to give Roach the nod over Floyd Sr. as the better trainer in this fight, and probably any fight in the sport today.

Posted by The Franchise

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