Men Behind The Scenes: Modern Day Fighter-Trainer Dream Teams

Tom Dunstan

In the world of boxing, fighter’s aren’t born, they’re made. Even though they might naturally have a combination of athletic skills, no fighter is born the finished article and they have to spend years to hone their talents into an art form.

Throughout the years, boxing has shown that behind every great fighter, they need a great trainer, someone to guide them both inside and outside the ring. A fighter-trainer relationship is a special bond, they must have full faith and trust in one another, here’s a look at some of boxing’s modern era dream teams:

Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach

When Freddy Roach first met Manny Pacquiao almost two decades ago, Pacquiao was a raw talent, he was an elite athlete with an explosive left hand. But, under the guidance of Roach, Pacquiao has become the boxing icon we have today.

Inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2012, Freddie Roach is still seen as one of the sports’ top trainers and Pacquiao is by far his greatest achievement in the sport.

Under the tutelage of Roach, Pac Man became a prize-fighter. Along with his devastating left, Roach taught the Philipino fighter to become a two-handed puncher and how to utilise his lethal speed, a combination that is still the signature of his style.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Roger Mayweather/Floyd Mayweather Sr

For all the Mayweather’s combined success, the Mayweather clan have proven that you don’t have to always like each other to be successful.

For the more iconic of the Mayweather’s, Floyd recently showed once again just why he is almost universally considered to be the best fighter of his generation. When you look at his history, you can see why boxing is almost imprinted in his DNA.

Floyd Sr was once a tough contender in the 70s and 80s and Floyd’s uncle, Roger was a former world champion. So it was natural that Floyd spent his childhood inside a boxing ring, honing his skills with both his father and his uncle.

Although they may have no problem airing their problems for the world to see, nobody can question its ultimate success.

Andre Ward and Virgil Hunter

This week we got the shock announcement that the current pound-for-pound king would be hanging up his gloves. Not only does this bring an end to Ward’s glittering career but we would also see an end to one of boxing’s longest fighter-trainer relationships.

For Hunter, he began training Ward when the future champion was just a young schoolboy, Hunter himself was a trainer who was still trying to learn his craft.

But, as the years flew by, both Men’s stock began to skyrocket. Ward developed into an undefeated eight-time world champion and Hunter has become one of the most in-demand trainers in boxing today.

As Andre Ward is eager to admit, without Hunter, we wouldn’t have Ward. Although Hunter is a brilliant tactical trainer who asses every inch of a boxing ring, his skills as a teacher and a motivational leader are what have pushed Ward to his heights.


Gennady Golovkin and Abel Sanchez

Even before GGG moved up to Big Bear, California and began training with Abel Sanchez, Golovkin was already an Olympic silver medalist who was already comfortably destroying professional fighters.

Upon Golovkin’s arrival in the US in 2010, Sanchez knew the natural talent he was working with. To match the knockout power Golovkin already possessed, Sanchez taught Golovkin to express a classic Mexican style of fighting that he is famous for today.

Still the WBA, WBC, IBF and IBO middleweight king, Golovkin owes much of his success in America to his trainer. Although previous to Golovkin, Sanchez had not enjoyed much attention as one of the worlds elite trainers, he has managed to help GGG become one of boxing’s greatest stars and also turned his training camp in California into one of the sports most famous gyms.

Terence Crawford and Brian McIntyre

Much like Andre Ward and Virgil Hunter, Terence Crawford and Brian McIntyre are another team that have been together since the beginning.

Although Crawford’s story may have only caught attention over the past few years, in his native Nebraska, Crawford has been working with his lead trainer Brian McIntyre since he first put on a pair of gloves as a child.

Now the unified light-welterweight world champion, Crawford has gained a reputation as one of the most polished fighters on the planet. He is as comfortable at southpaw as he is at orthodox and it takes a skilled fighter to do that, but, that skill has to have been well-taught.

Carl Froch and Robert McCracken

It just wouldn’t have felt right if we didn’t include at least one all British dream team.

In boxing, they say that there is a perfect fighter out there for every trainer, in Froch and McCracken we saw that. As a duo, it was very simple, McCracken was the coach and Froch was the student, that stayed the same from the amateurs into the professional ranks.

Froch as a fighter was a perfectionist when it came to training camps and physical conditioning, as for McCracken, he was never one for the limelight and simply wanted to push Froch to his full potential, it really was a karate kid duo.

Retiring as a four-time world champion, ‘The Cobra’ has always been credit his coach with all his success and the pair are arguably still regarded as British boxing’s best fighter-trainer team.

Mikey Garcia and Robert Garcia

For the Garcia brothers, they make up a unique pairing on this list, not only are they the only pair that are related, but, they’re the only team that consists of two individual world champions.

Despite Robert Garcia being a former IBF super-featherweight champion in the late 1990s, it will be his work as a trainer that has turned him into a household name. During his coaching career, Robert had already turned Brandon Rios into a two-weight world champion and managed to revive Marcos Maidana’s career.

Even with his success with both Rios and Maidana, Garcia’s greatest pupil is undoubtedly his younger brother, Mikey. An undefeated three-weight world champion and the current WBC lightweight king, the pair will be looking to unify the division before the year comes to an end.

Errol Spence Jr and Derrick James

Over the past couple of years, we have seen Errol Spence Jr blossom from America’s hottest young prospect, to the current IBF welterweight champion. He has appeared to transition from Olympian to world champion with almost no difficulty, a lot of the thanks goes to his long-term trainer, Derrick James.

The American duo began their journey together almost a decade ago back in 2008, James was finishing up his own professional career as a super-middleweight journeyman. At the same time, Spence was gaining a name as an amateur who was simply getting by on his pure athleticism.

After a single sparring session together, James became Spence’s first full-time coach and the two have been a destructive force since that day. Although Spence had all the athletic gifts, James turned his protege into the boxer he is today almost from scratch. He gave Spence a more competitive style, he showed him how to use his body frame as an advantage and taught him to use his angles and be a smart fighter inside the ring.



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