‘I Can’t Work With Freddie Anymore’: Longtime Coach Justin Fortune Leaving Manny Pacquiao’s Corner
After being in Manny Pacquiao’s corner for two decades, strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune said he’s walking away and this time, for good.
Fortune – a former Australian heavyweight fighter – said he’s getting blamed for Pacquiao’s August 21 loss to Yordenis Ugas, and he said he’s done taking the hits.
“I can’t work with Freddie [Roach] anymore, he keeps blaming me. He always blames somebody else … he never takes responsibility,” Fortune told Business Mirror.
“I was blamed for the cramps and tightness suffered by Pacquiao in the early rounds of the bout because of him being overtrained a few days before the fight night.”
Following the loss in the super welterweight bout, Pacquiao said his legs cramped in the second round, preventing him from fighting to his potential. The Filipino boxer lost via unanimous decision.
Fortune also told The Philippine Star that he’ll “never” work with Roach again and is disappointed Roach didn’t personally confront him with the blame.
Thirty minutes before the Ugas fight, physiotherapist Dr. Sean Hampton was working on Pacquiao’s legs, and Fortune said that’s the last thing that should be done.
“I think Freddie brought him in a week or a few weeks before,” he added. “I don’t know if he’s ever worked with a fighter or an elite athlete before. All I know is you don’t touch a fighter 30 minutes before a fight, certainly not to massage his legs. You want a fighter like a cat on a hot tin roof, not with loose legs. That’s a perfect formula to get cramps right away and it’s exactly what happened.”
Fortune was not in Pacquiao’s corner during the fight. Instead, it was Roach, longtime co-trainer Buboy Fernandez and cutman Mike Rodriguez.
But this isn’t the first time Fortune had a falling out with Roach.
The former boxer trained under Roach before retiring in 2009. He worked with Roach for Pacquiao from 2001 until 2007. In 2007, Fortune was replaced by coach Alex Ariza after a falling out.
Fortune returned in 2013 ahead of Pacquiao’s Brandon Rios fight.
Pacquiao nor Roach have issued a statement regarding Fortune’s comments.