By Chris Robinson
On Saturday night, inside of the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, I spent some time backstage with Five-time Trainer of the Year Freddie Roach prior to his fighter Frankie Gomez’s bout with Lanard Lane.
Still a few hours away from Gomez’s match, Roach and I briefly discussed another pugilist he was recently seen working with in former welterweight champion Victor Ortiz.
Having suffered an upset loss to Josesito Lopez in June, Ortiz would part ways with his then-trainer Danny Garcia shortly after the setback.
Temporarily sidelined because of a second surgery for a broken jaw he suffered in his bout with Lopez, Ortiz is still finding time to stay in shape and was spotted working with Roach inside of his Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles late last month.
Roach insists that he hasn’t officially been tabbed as Ortiz’s next trainer but seemed to really appreciate their recent time together.
“Victor’s a great talent, great kid,” Roach stated. “We did two days together. They haven’t made their mind up yet on who they are going to choose yet. We had a lot of fun. He’s a great kid and I wish him the best.”
This wasn’t Roach’s first encounter with Ortiz, as he vividly recalled some of the fighter’s sparring sessions in the past with his prized pupil, eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao.
“He’s seen me work many times,” Roach said of Ortiz. “He used to come to my gym and box with Manny Pacquiao quite a bit earlier in his career. Some of the best sparring sessions I’ve ever seen in my life. Some great wars.”
Roach is hesitant to speak on a possible future with Ortiz but you can sense the optimism in his voice.
“The thing is right now, they haven’t made a decision yet, so I really can’t expect anything now,” said Roach. “I think I helped him with some of his mistakes he was making and he was very happy about what I was showing him. Hopefully it will all come together.”
Roach endured a very tumultuous year in 2012, as he saw Pacquiao, as well as his other star fighters Amir Khan and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., suffer devastating losses. Khan has since teamed up with North California trainer Virgil Hunter while Chavez’s future remains uncertain.
There isn’t a single coach in the sport with as many accolades in recent memory other than Roach, yet he understands how the game of boxing works.
“Well, the thing is, we do all get older and things change in life,” Roach said, looking back at last year’s disappointments. “Like Manny Pacquiao told me, if you don’t think you can lose in this sport you picked the wrong sport.”
Regardless of what happens with Ortiz, Roach is eager for what his future holds and mentioned that he is looking forward to working with a new generation of upcoming boxers.
One of those fighters, the aforementioned Frankie Gomez, would end up impressing later that evening, winning a commanding decision over Lane after ten rounds of action to improve his record to 15-0 with 10 knockouts.