Freddie Roach will help coach USA Boxing team
Roach announced Saturday he will open his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood to U.S. boxers, and will work closest with the most elite Olympic qualifiers who have the best chance to claim a medal at the 2012 Summer Games in London.
The U.S. hasn't won a gold medal since 2004, when current super-middleweight champion Andre Ward of Oakland accomplished the feat.
"With the experience I have, I believe I can help the team and get some gold medals," Roach said at a news conference hours before Pacquiao was scheduled to defend his world welterweight title in Las Vegas against Shane Mosley.
Roach is scheduled to begin officially consulting with USA Boxing national coach Joe Zanders of Long Beach when Olympic team candidates gather for a high-performance retreat May 19-22 in Mobile, Ala., Roach's agent, Nick Khan, said. Khan and Los Angeles power broker Casey Wasserman helped craft the partnership.
In a prepared statement, the U.S. Olympic Committee said the Roach program will be "an add-on to the 2011-12 approved high-performance plan with the intent of providing a unique and valuable resource for the designated athletes as a supplement to the existing coaching structure."
Part of the U.S. team's problems in its medal-less skid has been inconsistent teaching, with the amateurs' personal coaches being denied from participating in Olympic coaching in Colorado Springs.
Roach said personal coaches will be allowed at Wild Card.
"My strongest feature is I can get to these people, I'm going to make them part of the team and make them understand what I'm teaching is correct. It will make them better coaches down the line."
He promises an aggressive approach to the highly criticized Olympic scoring system, adding, "Give me talent, and I know what to do with it."
Roach insisted his pro training schedule won't conflict with the required amateur work, which will intensify with U.S. Olympic trials in late July and world competition in late September/October.
Roach said he spends 12 hours a day inside Wild Card, and won't miss time with the amateurs when he'll likely devote four weeks to Pacquiao in the Philippines in September. A USA Boxing official said Roach will supervise the training for the world championships before departing to work with Pacquiao.
The mission is gold for the U.S., Roach said, noting his patriotism kicked in after he was first asked to assist the Philippines' boxing team.
"I'll make time for these guys," Roach said. "Winning a gold medal used to be a great ticket to the pros. It's been a little embarrassing [in recent years], we've got to change that."
Roach said he won't accept excuses such as the country's amateur crop is weakened by the immediate ability to turn pro at 18, while rivals in Cuba and Europe have a fiercer commitment to Olympic glory.
"The goal is to make money in boxing, and one of the best ways to do that is to win a gold medal and get your name out there," Roach said. "I still think America's a great place to develop boxers."
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: World champion boxer Manny Pacquiao works out with trainer Freddie Roach in preparation for his title fight against Shane Mosley. Credit: Bullit Marquez / Associated Press