When Manny Pacquiao decided against hiring Freddie Roach as his trainer for his upcoming WBA welterweight title shot against Argentine boxer Lucas Matthysse, he also, perhaps inadvertently, declined the help of U.S.-based Filipino trainer Marvin Somodio.
Since the fight against Miguel Cotto back in 2009, Somodio has been an assistant to Roach and an important member of Pacquiao's team. It all started when Pacquiao chose to train in Baguio City's Shape-Up Boxing Gym before Somodio ultimately joined Roach at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles.
His knowledge of Matthysse could have helped Pacquiao's preparation as he trained two boxers who went up against the current WBA champion.
"Back in 2015, Freddie was busy with other fighters so I acted as the head trainer for Ruslan Provodnikov," said Somodio. "We went into the fight thinking that Matthysse will engage because he's really known for his power. What we learned quickly from that fight was he can adjust quickly. Instead of standing toe-to-toe, he noticed that Ruslan was not that quick to he decided to box from the outside."
This adjustment was enough for Matthysse to eke out a majority decision victory against Provodnikov.
Somodio did not have to wait a long time before he got the chance to even things up against Matthysse as he was the assistant to Roach during Viktor Postol's training.
The Ukrainian, who was undefeated at the time, was the underdog against Matthysse when they competed for the WBC Super Lightweight title.
"In that fight, Matthysse knew that Postol's footwork was better than his so he could not box him," Somodio continued. "But when he tried to go inside, we met him with jabs to the face because Postol's reach was also longer. Matthysse got so frustrated that night that he quit in the tenth round. If you watch that fight again, the punch that sent him down was not the strongest of punches and he was on his knee for the entire 10-count."
With a record of 1-1 in training fighters against Matthysse, Somodio could have been a valuable part of Pacquiao's preparation. But even if he wasn't part of the camp, the young trainer still thinks the eight-division world champion will be able to handle his business on July 15.
"Right after Matthysse defeated (Tewa) Kiram for the WBA title, I was already hoping Manny will get a title shot," he explained. "Styles make fights and Matthysse's style works well with Manny's."
"Matthysse will have a problem because he can't box Manny. He's not as quick and his footwork is not as good as Manny. But if he attacks, he'll meet Manny's power punches so it will be a tough fight for him."
Somodio, however, cautioned that Matthysse's power is no joke. Holding a record of 39 wins with 36 stoppages, he has a proven ability to knock out his foes.
"He's a dangerous opponent because of his power. His left and right are equally powerful and he's not under Joel Diaz who an outstanding trainer and who also has experience in training against Manny because he was in the corner of Timothy Bradley in their first two fights," he went on.
After helping train Pacquiao for a better part of this decade, Somodio knows that Pacquiao is no longer the monster that he was when he steamrolled over bigger opponents in the welterweight and super welterweight divisions but he thinks the Filipino boxing legend has more than enough gas left in the tank.
"While it's true that Manny has lost some speed and power, the same could also be said about Matthysse," Somodio closed. "The key for Manny is how long he can maintain his work rate. If his conditioning is good, then I think he'll be able to score a stoppage in the latter rounds."