The final episode of HBO’s On Freddie Roach opened with a knockout. This knockout however was not by one of Freddie’s fighters, but by Freddie himself. Freddie never got to the level of boxing that he wanted to reach. He never won a world title and therefore was never a world champion, but today he known as the best trainer in boxing, and has been in the corner for dozens of world champions. Freddie trains fighters constantly, and literally never takes a day off despite being affected by Parkinson’s disease. Peter Berg does an absolutely fantastic job giving us a glimpse into his life and each one of these 6 episodes. The final episode is by far the most fascinating and gives a perfect conclusion to one of the best documentaries I have seen in a really long time.
The majority of this episode was spent on the day of the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. The lead up to the actual fight isn’t all that interesting, but the fight itself certainly is. I remember watching this fight back when it happened in November and I can remember Freddie telling Manny in between rounds that he was losing the fight. I remember him telling Manny after the 10th round that he had only 2 rounds left to knock this guy out. Freddie certainly seemed to think Manny was losing the fight. I remember I thought the same thing as I watched these two men battle for the 3rd time, and even when the judges announced the majority decision victory for Pacquiao the crowd also seemed to see the fight the same way I did. Manny was hailed with boos from the audience and seemed to be deeply affected by this during his post fight interview inside the ring. This part was left out of this episode of On Freddie Roach, but we did get to see Freddie and Manny’s interaction in the locker room after the fight. Freddie doesn’t admit it to anyone, not to Manny and certainly not to the press, but he seemed to think that Manny was definitely losing this fight while it was happening. All he ever really says, though, is that he thought the fight was close, and it certainly was but was Manny actually the winner? Not in my opinion at least but my opinion means very little in the sport of boxing.
Whether or not Manny won the fight has absolutely no affect on Freddies schedule. It is simply another day in his life. After the fight is over he immediately returns to the wild card gym in Hollywood to begin his training with Julio Cesar Chavez jr. The man never takes a day off and I love the voice over he provides for us when he is preparing Manny for his fight. During this voiceover Freddie tells us that he doesn’t want to just be the guy who sits in the corner outside of the ring and yells at his fighter. He likes getting in there and working with them. Freddie puts on the mitts and gets inside the ring and works just as hard as his fighter works. He feels this is important to show his fighter. He’s going to get in there and train them, not just instruct them. He’s going to work just as hard as they work because that’s how much he is committed to them. It doesn’t matter who they are, whether they are Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan, or even the U.S. olympic prospects, he is going to put on the mitts himself and get into the ring with them. Freddie explains that this is how he and Pepper were raised. They were taught that you work hard and you always see the job through to the end.
I feel like every episode of this series you learn something fascinating about one of the characters involved in Freddie Roach’s life. This time around though, the person we get to learn something about is Freddie himself. While everyone is out at dinner, one of the guys at the table reads a tabloid headline from London that calls Freddie a choir boy, and then in the same sentence mentions how he once bit a man’s eye out. Freddie and everyone at the table laughs at this ridiculous story but then several minutes later, in one of his voiceovers, Freddie tells us the story. Just when you think you are really getting to know someone, you hear them tell a story that ends with them biting out someones eye and then spitting in their face. Wow. I will never ever look at Freddie Roach the same way. My favorite part of the story was at the end when Freddie finishes telling us everything that happened he simply says “and here I am today.” That’s it, one time I tackled a guy to the ground, bit his eye out “and here I am today.” Wow, what a guy.
I loved the way this episode, and therefore series, ended. Freddie tells us that he lives one day at a time and doesn’t think about Parkinson’s. It is truly remarkable how he is able to live his life with this horrendous disease constantly affecting him, but he does it. He doesn’t let it him slow him down once so ever, and he even says that right now he feels like he’s going to outlive all of us.
Freddie Roach is an amazing human being and HBO and Peter Berg did a fantastic job giving us this opportunity to take a glimpse into his incredible life. All in all this entire series was amazing. HBO does a great job with their documentary series 24/7 but On Freddie Roach was on an entirely different level. This series was easily the best sports documentary that I have seen in a really long time, and I would even go as far to say this was one of the best documentary’s I have ever seen. I would watch anything that Peter Berg does going forward.