By Chris Robinson
On Friday night at Buffalo Bill's Casino in Primm, Nevada, lightweight contender Raymundo Beltran put forth a gutsy effort in falling just short to local prospect by way of Uganda, Sharif 'The Lion' Bogere via unanimous decision. Beltran was outclassed early before turning on the pressure late in taking command over the second half of the fight and winning over the crowd by bullying Bogere and appearing to hurt him on a few occasions down the stretch.
Watching the action from ringside was Beltran's trainer Freddie Roach. The Los Mochis, Sinaloa fighter has been a staple to Roach's Wild Card Boxing Club for several years and is a long time sparring partner to WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, who just last week won a lackluster decision over Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
About thirty minutes after the fight I caught up with Roach to get his take on Beltran's latest ring excursion.
"It was a sloppy fight," Roach said honestly. "With their styles they clashed heads a lot. Overall I thought he did enough to win the fight. He was the aggressor. It's hard to swallow but the thing is, you have to move on. He fought ok but he can do better. We'll get him back in the gym and make some adjustments."
At the moment Roach's next big assignment is on June 4th when he will guide Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. into battle in his first world title challenge against WBC middleweight champion Sebastian Zbik at the Staples Center. I asked Freddie his thoughts on the fight and why he expects Chavez to look better than he did in his last outing, an unconvincing ten-round decision over journeyman Billy Lyell in January.
"It's a tough fight," Roach admitted. "Zbik is a very good fighter. Chavez is doing very well. He's training hard every day and he's working his ass off. We had a short camp for the [Lyell] fight. I'll tell you what was more important was his inactivity. He hadn't fought in a year. It was a year between the two fights and activity will make you sharp."
Roach was in England last month as another one of his stars, WBA junior welterweight champion Amir Khan, won a technical decision over Ireland's Paul McCloskey. The victory was supposed to pave way for title unification but those plans look to have fallen apart as WBC and WBO champ Timothy Bradley has turned his nose at a $1.3 million dollar purse.
The news is shocking to many given Bradley's lack of star appeal and Roach admits it is disappointing to see the fight fall apart.
"Yes, it is. Bradley talked a lot and now he doesn't want to fight. So, we'll just move on," Roach said with a bit of displeasure in his voice.
I asked Roach for his take on Pacquiao's victory over Mosley and he seemed pleased, noting that his charge 'won every second of every round' and that he couldn't fault him for it. Pacquiao's next fight looks to be a third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez this November, a man he fought to a draw in May of 2004 and nipped via split-decision in March of 2008.
Marquez has been clamoring for another crack at Pacquiao yet currently they are two weight classes away from one another, with Marquez currently the WBA and WBO lightweight champion of the world. Still, Roach can't completely write the 37-year old off.
"I think so," Roach answered when asked if it's still a competitive fight. "Marquez is a very smart, very clever fighter. We'll figure things out, we'll see."
The fight would take place on either November 5th or November 12th and that means Pacquiao, who often trains in the Philippines to kick off his training camps, might not be returning to the Wild Card until October. It's always a crazy scene whenever Pacquiao is back in Los Angeles and Roach admits the gym has a completely different element to it without him.
"It's a lot calmer"