By Chris Robinson
Over the weekend in San Antonio, Texas, I caught up with trainer Freddie Roach during fight-week festivities for the Nonito Donaire-Wilfredo Vazquez Jr./Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Marco Antonio Rubio HBO twin bill at the Alamodome. Roach’s presence at the event saw him take Chavez, the world’s WBC middleweight champion, into battle as he pulled out a hard-fought unanimous decision over Rubio.
And While the 25-year old champion from Sinaloa, Mexico is one of the hottest names in the sport, Roach is known best for having overseen the work of Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao. At the moment Pacquiao is practically set for a showdown on June 9th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, with junior welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley, and Roach seems content with such a matchup.
“My job is to get him ready for whoever they put in front of me,” stated Roach. “I don’t negotiate the fights with him anymore. Him and [Top Rank promoter] Bob [Arum] do that and it looks like it’s Bradley and it looks like it’s going to be a June 9th date I hear. That’s fine with me. I’ll get him ready for that fight.”
Roach then flipped the script and admitted that he too had been having hopes for a Pacquiao showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. instead.
“I’m a fight fan and I wish it was Mayweather but the thing is, he calls us out and he’s all brave and then he asked for a 70/30 split. He knows it’s a deal breaker and I had to ask ‘Who’s really wearing the dress?’” Roach asked.
Roach was asked if he saw anything special in Bradley and he instead took a shot at the Palm Springs, California fighter before backtracking a bit.
“He’s a dirty fighter, well, he’s a physical fighter,” Roach stated. “He uses his head, elbows, so forth. Manny does have some trouble with that because Manny can’t retaliate. I tell Manny that if a guy hits you low, hit him back low, but he won’t do that. So, the thing is, it could pose a bit of a problem. But the thing is, his speed and his power should be too much for him. It should be an exciting fight as long as it lasts.”
And while Pacquiao likely will be dueling with Bradley, one month earlier Mayweather will have a dance of his own with Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto, the present WBA junior middleweight champion of the world and the third biggest draw in the sport.
Cotto has only lost twice, in July of 2008 to Antonio Margarito and sixteen months later to Pacquiao, but he is riding a three-fight winning streak that saw him extract revenge against Margarito in December with a 10th round TKO after busting up the Tijuana fighter’s surgically-repaired right eye.
Mayweather is a level above the recent run of fighters Cotto has been feasting on but Roach likes the bout.
“It’s a good fight actually,” Roach continued. “There’s no other way they could have went to sell that fight. Cotto is a durable guy, he’s on a good roll, and he’s on a winning streak. Mayweather is a great counter-puncher, it’s a great matchup.”
Roach surely has studied Cotto in recent years, from the Pacquiao meeting to rumors of a possible showdown with Chavez Jr. And when asked the best way for Mayweather to defeat Cotto, Roach seemed to hint that a hotly-contested boxing match may be on its way.
“Well, Mayweather’s a great counterpuncher and he will suck you into shots and he’s a very good at that.” Roach added. “He doesn’t have a similar pattern to Pacquiao. Pacquiao did it with more offensive, Mayweather will do it on the counterpunching end.
“But I will say this; Miguel’s new trainer, who is a Cuban, and Cubans know counter-punches very well because that’s what they are. The Cubans coming from the Olympics, they’re all counterpunchers. I think they’re going to come up with a good game plan and hopefully they’ll do well.”
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