Freddie Roach is likely to be in Pacquiao’s corner for a fight with McGregor, continuing the relationship that saw him guide the Filipino to a quick win over Hatton in 2009 as he knocked the feared British champion down twice in the first round.
Pacquiao finished Hatton in the second round in Las Vegas on a night that enhanced Roach’s reputation as one of the best in the sport.
Now the 60-year-old has surprisingly waded in to the frenzied social media debate around former UFC champion McGregor’s second professional boxing match, which he has said will take place against Pacquiao.
Responding to a tweet by McGregor revealing that the fight will take place in the Middle East, Roach responded: “If this is true, Manny Pacquiao will have an easier time with you than when he fought Ricky Hatton.”
McGregor fared better than many anticipated when he made his boxing debut in 2017, going 10 rounds with Floyd Mayweather – the man who was long considered Pacquiao’s greatest rival when the pair were at their peaks.
Undefeated Mayweather, who eventually beat Pacquiao in 2015 in the penultimate fight of his career against an established boxer, enjoyed a one-sided win that still left many feeling McGregor had ample ability between the ropes.
Roach is one of the first experts to give his views on the mooted meeting between the fighter he knows best and McGregor, although his insinuation that he has not been informed about the fight could suggest that its confirmation is not absolute yet.
Fans reacted with surprise to the bullish tweet from Roach, who is not known for entering personal exchanges on social media and had not posted on the platform for a month.
Some were angry that the American had chosen to tag Hatton following the Mancunian’s well-documented personal problems and retirement from boxing since his defeat to Pacquiao.
“No need to tag Ricky into this, Freddie,” cautioned one. “After everything he’s been through since that fight, have your opinion but have some respect.”
Another added: “Yeah, I like Freddie but it is kind of a d*ck move to tag Ricky.”
One Hatton supporter said: “Just say you’d think he’d make easy work of it. Lost respect for you here…like you’d give a f*ck anyway.”
Others agreed with Roach’s assessment. “Can’t stand these show fights,” rued one. “Manny won’t mess about: he will end him quick, if it happens.”
A critic of the Irishman predicted: “Easy money for Manny. McGregor’s boxing technique is awful, he has poor defence and little in the gas tank. Could be embarrassing for McGregor.”
At 41, Pacquiao is nine years older than McGregor and unlikely to show the lightning hands with which he dismantled Hatton and many of his other victims should the bout be held.
Roach had been targeting a rematch with McGregor before Pacquiao suffered a humbling defeat to little-known Jeff Horn in 2017.
“If Manny wins and struggles, we might have to think about calling it a day,” he admitted at the time. “We are getting close to the end, I know. If he struggles in this fight it could be over.”
Pacquiao took more than a year to return from that shock, knocking out Lucas Matthysse before earning two wins on points last year.