Freddie Roach was in the opposite corner of Miguel Cotto in November of 2009 working as trainer for Manny Pacquiao during the latter’s 12th-round knockout victory that dethroned Cotto as WBO welterweight beltholder.
In August, the trio was reunited at Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., only this time, Pacquiao as on hand to watch Roach train Cotto (37-4, 30 knockouts) in advance of the Puerto Rican three-division titlewinner’s Oct. 5 junior middleweight bout with Delvin Rodriguez (28-6-3, 16 KOs).
Roach will also work with Pacquiao, who offered encouragement to Cotto, in preparation for his welterweight matchup with rising junior welterweight Brandon Rios on Nov. 24 in Macau (Nov. 23 in the western hemisphere) in Macau, China.
During a conference call on Friday, Roach was asked which corner he would choose if Pacquiao and Cotto chose to have a rematch.
“I talked to Manny about this a little bit, actually, because Manny called me up and asked me if he could come and watch Miguel work out here at the Wild Card, and I said, ‘of course you can.’ Manny came to watch him work out, they’re friends, they shook hands. Manny and Miguel will never fight,” said Roach.
“I guarantee you that…Manny and Miguel are very good friends now. Manny came to watch Miguel work out. They’ve had their fight. It’s over. Miguel’s a 154 pounder and Manny’s a 147 pounder. They’re friends right now. Once Manny becomes a friend with somebody, he’ll never fight them, that’s just the way that he is. That’s why I can guarantee you that they’ll never fight.”
Cotto, who turns 32 on Oct. 29, was trained by Pedro Diaz for his past three bouts — losses to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Austin Trout in May and December of last year, and a 10th-round knockout over Antonio Margarito in December of 2011.
Cotto was trained by the late Manny Steward for his WBA 154-pound title-winning ninth-round stoppage of Yuri Foreman in June of 2010, and for his first defense — a 12th-round knockout of ex-beltholder Ricardo Mayorga — in March of 2011.
But on the conference call, Cotto and Roach mutually agreed that they will likely remain together until the end of Cotto’s career.
“My whole team does. All of my guys in my gym, everyone loves him in the gym. He gets along with everybody in my gym. Everything’s working out really well. He’s very comfortable here in L.A., it seems like. I’ve been over at his house a couple of times. We watched the Mayweather fight together,” said Roach.
“It’s a good situation because we’re all on the same team. We’re all trying to help each other. My entire staff is open to him. Him and his family are so kind. It’s a very good situation, and I know that we’re going to have a lot of big fights together after this. I feel like we’re working really well together. We work hard for each other. I think that we’re a great team together and that this is just the beginning.”
“Freddie, with his reputation that he has in boxing, makes me think about it,” said Cotto. “I think that I’m going to finish my career here with Freddie. I think I can do the best that I can with him.”
Roach and Cotto were together as they watched Saturday’s unanimous decision by Mayweather over Canelo Alvarez on Showtime Pay Per View, and Roach believes Cotto performed better against Mayweather than Alvarez did.
Although he ended Cotto’s streak of three straight knockout victories, Mayweather emerged with a bloody nose from the most physical fights of his illustrious career.
“I felt like Miguel had a better fight with Floyd. I think that everyone in the world knows that. Canelo just didn’t… it wasn’t his night. I’m not sure what it was. Making the weight, possibly,” said Roach.
“Or being in there with an experienced guy and being the young guy, coming up. Obviously, Miguel has a lot more experience, and experience is something that you have to earn. Canelo is still a young fighter and I’m sure that he did the best that he could, but it wasn’t nearly good enough.”
Cotto, however, was ambivalent regarding the comparison.
“I don’t want to talk about Canelo. He has his own strategy,” said Cotto, who has been mentioned by Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer as a potential rival for Alvarez in the future. “He made his own fight and I made mine. I look the way that I wanted to look with Floyd, and Canelo looked his way. I have nothing to say about that.”
Rodriguez, who is 33, has won two straight by knockout since falling by unanimous decision to Trout in June of 2012. Roach and Cotto both said they’ve gained little from directly comparing Cotto’s performance against Trout to that of Rodriguez against Trout.
“Delvin’s got a whole different style than Miguel does. Styles make fights, and we’ve studied tapes and so forth of those fights,” said Roach. “We’ve picked up things here and there off of the tapes. But overall, just watching their fights, just because they both fought Trout, he’s just one common opponent. But we’re not getting much off of that.”
Having gone 9-1 with five knockouts in New York, where he is immensly popular, Cotto will face Rodriguez on HBO at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., whose Puerto Rican population is huge.
“Miguel is an icon within the Latin community, and I wouldn’t just isolate it to a territory. That’s throughout Latin America, throughout Mexico. That’s everywhere. Obviously, the connectivity to his home base, which are people of Puerto Rican descent, they look at him as one, and they are his base. So, if they’re in New York, or if they’re in Orlando, or they’re in San Juan, or Caguas, they’re the same fans,” said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank.
“We looked at other buildings and other facilities, and this was one that Miguel and his team had expressed that they wanted to do. We collectively worked with his promotional team in establishing this venue, and the response has been incredible. We keep having to open up new sections of seats, and we look for an electric night. But his popularity is way, way beyond regional. We’re going to keep opening up sections, and if the demand stays strong, we’re going to be totally sold out.”
Cotto fought Mayweather and Trout under the Golden Boy Promotions banner after having faced Margarito with Top Rank.
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
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Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com