Freddie Roach gets show on HBO
Star boxing trainer Freddie Roach is used to having cameras follow him around when he is preparing pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao for fights.
Now, he will take center stage as the star of a new six-episode unscripted primetime series, "On Freddie Roach," which is slated to debut in early 2012 on HBO.
Pacquiao has been the subject of multiple editions of HBO's "24/7" as well as the recent "Fight Camp 360" on Showtime while getting ready to fight Shane Mosley earlier this month. Roach was a big part of those series, but still a supporting player.
They [HBO] stopped in (Tuesday) to get a look at the gym and see the atmosphere and see who the characters are at my gym. I have some interesting friends.” -- Freddie Roach
This series, announced Tuesday, includes filmmaker Peter Berg and HBO blow-by-blow announcer Jim Lampley among its executive producers. It will focus on Roach and his daily life working with fighters at his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., as well as his daily battle with Parkinson's disease.
"I am used to it," Roach told ESPN.com about having the cameras around him constantly. "Pretty much the same deal as '24/7' and 'Fight Camp' with cameras there at 5 a.m. and waking me up. They have the keys to my house to get in.
"It's going to be my life at home and mostly everything in the gym leading up to fights. It doesn't bother me having the cameras around. Sometimes it gets overwhelming and if it does, I tell them to go home."
The cameras will follow Roach as he works with his fighters, including Pacquiao, junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan and middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and as he manages his new role working with USA Boxing.
Roach recently accepted an unpaid role with the amateur organization to bring several young fighters to his gym who are leading contenders to make the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.
"They put together a really good idea of people looking into my life from the outside," Roach said. "The thing is it will give people a look at what my life is like. I have a great life and with the Olympic team thing coming up and Manny and Amir having fights, I hope people will find it interesting."
"We are truly excited about this innovative new reality series that will allow HBO to partner with Peter Berg," Michael Lombardo, president of HBO Programming, said. "Freddie Roach is an extraordinary person and many of our subscribers are familiar with his superior work in training some of the world's premier fighters. This will be a fascinating and unique series."
The show began filming about 10 days before Pacquiao's May 7 welterweight title defense against Mosley, which Pacquiao won in a lopsided decision. His next fight is slated for Nov. 12 against rival Juan Manuel Marquez. Khan opened training camp on Monday to prepare for a July 23 title defense. His opponent is expected to be set this week.
"We start filming more of the show this week. They stopped in (Tuesday) to get a look at the gym and see the atmosphere and see who the characters are at my gym. I have some interesting friends," Roach said with a laugh. "This show will give a broader picture of my life and the people I take care of and the people that take care of me. It will be much broader than just getting one fighter ready for a fight. You're not going to catch me at home too often though. The gym will be the focal point of the show."
HBO Sports originally rejected the series and it was picked up by AMC for development. But after creative differences with AMC, HBO got another opportunity and decided to pick it up.
"HBO's enthusiasm in supporting a less-conventional, vérité style of storytelling is why they continue to create original and truly innovative programming," Berg said. "It's why they are the best and we are very excited to be working with them."
Roach, 51, a native of Dedham, Mass., who now lives in Hollywood, was a longtime professional fighter, which many believe is the cause of his Parkinson's. As a trainer, he has worked with numerous champions, and earlier this month he collected his third trainer of the year award in a row -- and fifth overall -- from the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
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