Published: August 11, 2004
spending the better part of the summer on Planet Tyson at the Central
Boxing Club in Phoenix, Arizona, Freddie Roach is now back to the
familiar confines of his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California.
More than any fighter, Mike Tyson lives a fishbowl existence that very
few citizens can fathom. Training him means that you too live in that
fishbowl. For better or worse, training Tyson raises your profile and
makes you a celebrity of sorts. It comes with perks, like being among
the most lucrative jobs in boxing, but the downside is that it
means giving Tyson exclusivity and basically dropping everything else
in your life.
Now, in the aftermath of Tyson’s shocking knockout loss to Danny
Williams, Roach settles back into his regular routine back home.
“It’s always good coming back home to my fighters and Macka( Foley) and
all the guys,” said Roach late last week, about a week after Tyson’s
loss. “The Wild Card’s a fun place to be at, so I missed it a lil’ bit.
Arizona was nice, but when you only have one fighter in Arizona, you
have a lot of down time. So I stay a lot busier here, more active and
so it’s more fun to me.”
When MaxBoxing dropped in on Roach and Tyson about three weeks before
the Williams fight, the trainer talked about the possibility of perhaps
moving out to Arizona on a permanent basis.
“The only thing keeping me from going to Arizona is the Wild Card,”
Roach says. “I got so many friends here, so if it did happen it would
be right away. But I like Arizona a lot, it’s a nice place to live,
it’s a lot cheaper than LA, of course. And that’s a big factor and it’s
a good place for training. It’s a good place for fighters to work out
Roach is staying busy. This past Friday he was at a club show in
Montebello, where one of his fighters was in action, Bernard Dunne is
making his last preparations before his bout on ShoBox on August 19th,
Manny Pacquiao is due in next week and James Toney is back in the gym
for his return in late September. In the last few years, Roach has been
among the most in-demand trainers in the sport.
But nothing is like training Tyson.
“It’s a very unique experience,” he admits. “Mike’s a character; he’s a
funny guy, he has a sense of humor – people don’t realize it.”
And being with him is like traveling with a rock star.
“He’s still so big, like when we flew to the press conference on a
domestic flight, we had a two-hour layover in Minnesota and he’s just
so recognizable. Thousands and thousands of people were coming for
autographs and he signed every single one of them. He never got
mad and he said, ‘Freddie, does this happen when you’re with James
Speaking of which, what did ‘Lights Out’, who had a running
war-of-words with Tyson over who was Roach’s best big man, have to say?
“He didn’t say anything about it; he knows I’m disappointed in Mike
losing,” explained Roach.” And Mike really likes him. When an article
came out that I said that Mike Tyson would knock out James Toney –
that wasn’t true. And even Mike said, ‘I know you didn’t say that. I
hope James doesn’t get mad.’
“They really have a respect for each other. But y’know what? They’d
still like to fight each other, I think. It would be a great fight and
the press conferences would be wild.”
So the question is, does he work with the mercurial one, again?
“That’s hard to say,” Roach says of the possibility of being in Tyson’s
corner in the future. “Me and Mike get along very well. I think he
wants me to be his trainer and so forth and I will strongly consider
it. But the thing is he has to make those commitments to me and prove
that he’ll do that for me to come back.”
‘Those commitments’ mean that while Tyson did work hard for his bout
with Williams, he still didn’t work as hard as he needed to at this
stage of his career.
“We’re gonna have to sit down and have a talk and there’s certain
things he has to do if he wants to continue fighting,” Roach explains.
“He was better for this fight than he was the last fight but we still
need more discipline and more work. The thing is, you can’t just rely
on the power and knocking the guy out inside of four rounds.”
One thing that concerned Roach was that Tyson weighed around 233 pounds for the fight with Williams.
“He went on a strength program and he felt that he wanted to be a lil’
heavier for this fight because Williams is a big guy and he put on a
lil’ too much muscle, I thought,” stated Roach. “I like him better at
225, he’s much quicker, his combinations are better and so forth. But I
was concerned when he came in heavy.”
In looking back on Tyson’s performance, Roach says, “There were some
very good points and some very bad points in his performance, actually.
It’s the best he’s looked in a long time until he hurt his knee and I
think he was one punch away from putting this guy away. He was putting
combinations together, he was using the jab. I was really happy with
his performance, but again, he needs more consistency.”
So while Tyson faces a rehab and an uncertain future, Roach just goes back to work.
“Yeah, back to the regular routine. Just back to work.”