After 11 listless rounds, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. had finally found the magic he had been looking for all night. As Sergio Martinez's 37-year-old legs began to betray him, he finally stood in front of the much larger, much younger Chavez, and a left hook sent him sprawling to the canvas.
The moment elicited memories of Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.'s 12th-round heroics against Meldrick Taylor in 1990. The only difference was, Martinez made it to the final bell, winning a wide decision.
Freddie Roach was in Chavez Jr.'s corner that night and says that he had the perfect game plan to unseat the middleweight champion. He just didn't have a ward in the ring willing to follow it.
"I had the game plan to beat him once before but my guy Chavez just didn’t want to listen," said Roach, reminiscing about the 2012 fight. "He almost got him at the end but he just waited a little too long."
On June 7, Roach will get a second shot at guiding a fighter past the middleweight king when Miguel Cotto faces Martinez, the RING and WBC middleweight champion, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Roach and Cotto (38-4, 31 knockouts) will be working in just their second fight together, as Cotto ascends to the middleweight division to target a title in his fourth weight class.
In their first fight together, in October, Cotto, 33, dominated junior middleweight contender Delvin Rodriguez, stopping him in three rounds.
"He was fighting not an 'A-fighter' but a real awkward guy," said Roach. "I watched tape on the guy and said, 'F–k this guy, he’s really awkward.' But we came up with a game plan, it worked so well.
"Cotto, I worked with him for one fight and there are a couple of things I want to change but we’ll see. He’s a great fighter already. With him and Manny [Pacquiao], all I have to do is come up with a good game plan because they know the science of boxing. I don’t need to redo the jab or tell them to keep their hands up."
Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs) of Argentina, has been champion for four years, since defeating Kelly Pavlik by a bloody unanimous decision. Martinez hasn't tasted defeat since 2009 during a Fight of the Year-caliber brawl with Paul Williams, but at 39 has begun to slow down precipitously. He may be ripe for the taking against Cotto.
"I love this fight," said Roach. "I have the game plan for this fight and me and Cotto have talked about it."
Cotto will be training alongside his former foe Pacquiao at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood with Roach.