LAS VEGAS — Freddie Roach was in the opposite corner of Miguel Cotto in November of 2009 as the trainer for Manny Pacquiao during the latter's 12th-round knockout victory that dethroned Cotto as WBO welterweight beltholder.
The trio was together last Thursday at the Top Rank Gym in Las Vegas. Only this time, Pacquiao was in the final stages of preparation for last Saturday's unanimous decision over Tim Bradley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and Cotto, his continuing work toward challenging RING and WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez on June 7 at New York's Madison Square Garden.
On Friday at Wolfgang Puck's at the MGM, Cotto shared some his thoughts with reporters regarding his relationship with Pacquiao and Roach, in advance of his fight with Martinez.
"Freddie is a professional the whole way," said Cotto, 33, who began working with Roach nearly a year ago to the day prior to his third-round technical knockout of Delvin Rodriguez in October and Pacquiao's unanimous decision over Brandon Rios in November.
"Freddie has his time for Manny, time for Miguel and time for the rest of his boxers. He splits his time pretty well among everybody. It's good to be around a the kind of fighter like Manny Pacquiao. It makes me work harder."
Cotto had been trained by Pedro Diaz for his previous three bouts — losses to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Austin Trout in May and December of 2012, respectively, and a ninth-round knockout over Antonio Margarito in December 2011.
"Having Freddie around, I believe that is the best thing that I've done in my last three, four years, because he comes everyday trying to bring his best and to bring out the best in me," said Cotto.
"Freddie identifies some bad habits that I had before. Basic defensive kinds of things like that and we've worked on that. Freddie has made me feel comfortable and he has made me be a more focused fighter. We work with great chemistry."
Would Cotto ever consider a rematch with Pacquiao?
"I'm fighting at 160 right now," said Cotto, a three-division titlewinner. "Manny's at 147. I'm not going back down."
Cotto (38-4, 31 knockouts) is attempting to become the first Puerto Rican fighter to win four titles in as many divisions against Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs), a veteran southpaw who turned 39 in February and has not fought since April 2013 when he unanimously decisioned Martin Murray in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
"That is the main attraction in this fight for me, having the opportunity to become the first Puerto Rican to become a champion in four different divisions. That means a lot to me," said Cotto. "That's my motivation to work with Freddie. Freddie was in the corner of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. when he lost to Martinez, so I know that he has the right information for me to take into this fight."
Martinez has risen from the canvas during each of his past three fights comprised of an 11th-round stoppage of Matthew Macklin and unanimous decision victories over Murray and Chavez.
Martinez is 7-0, with four knockouts since falling by majority decision to Paul Williams in December 2009, having avenged that loss by stopping Williams in the second round in November 2010.
The win over Williams was in defense of the WBC belt Martinez won by unanimous decision from Kelly Pavlik in April 2010. Martinez has also knocked out former titleholders Sergei Dzinziruk and Darren Barker in the eighth and 11th rounds.
After the Chavez fight, Martinez received eight stitches to repair a cut over his left eye, two staples in his head, and suffered from both a broken left hand and torn ligaments in his right knee, the latter of which required surgery to repair.
Martinez required a second surgery after having damaged the knee injury, later determined to be a torn right meniscus, after his triumph over Murray.
Martinez told RingTV.com that Cotto has chosen to fight only due to Martinez's perceived vulnerability.
"Martinez has earned everything that he has. He is a great fighter. This is the right time for this fight. Martinez is the best name at this moment for my career," said Cotto. "But if Martinez doesn't believe in himself, his skills and his abilities because he can't heal his injuries, then he picked the wrong fight."
MIGUEL COTTO’S FIGHTS IN NEW YORK:
Waklimi Young, UD 4, Hammerstein Ballroom, April 28, 2001
Muhammad Abdulaev, TKO 9, Madison Square Garden, June 11, 2005
Paulie Malignaggi, UD 12, Madison Square Garden, June 10, 2006
Zab Judah, TKO 11, Madison Square Garden, June 9, 2007
Shane Mosley, UD 12, Madison Square Garden, Nov. 10, 2007
Michael Jennings, TKO 5, Madison Square Garden, February 21, 2009
Joshua Clottey, SD 12, Madison Square Garden, June 13, 2009
Yuri Foreman, TKO 9, Yankee Stadium, June 5, 2010
Antonio Margarito, TKO 10, Madison Square Garden, Dec. 3, 2011
Austin Trout UD 12 Miguel Cotto, Madison Square Garden, Dec. 12, 2012
Photo/Chris Farina/TOP RANK