By Chris Robinson
During a recent visit to the Wild Card Boxing Club, trainer Freddie Roach was mobbed by reporters at Manny Pacquiao's open media workout. While the building was packed well before Pacquiao's arrival, it was Roach who was then the center of attention as he addressed a myriad of topics related to the sport and his own personal career.
When the dust had finally settled and I had a few moments to talk with Roach, I opened up and asked him for his thoughts on Top Rank's recent signing of former champion Kermit Cintron. Bob Arum has even hinted that the devastating puncher could be in line for a crack at Pacquiao down the road, a comment that raised more than a few eyebrows.
I asked Roach about those rumors and he instantly took a few shots at the ending of Cintron's last fight, a May technical decision to Paul Williams that ended abruptly after Cintron appeared to dive through the ropes.
"Didn't Kermit quit in his last fight? Who would pay to see that?," said Roach, obviously preferring other options for his star fighter at the moment.
Roach was in England last weekend as another one of his prized pupils, Amir Khan, went to work in defending his WBA junior welterweight crown against shifty Irishman Paul McCloskey. Khan was far from stirring, settling for a technical decision win after the fight was stopped via an accidental head butt to McCloskey in the sixth, but Roach still seems confident about a summer showdown with fellow champion Timothy Bradley this July.
"His performance wasn't that great," Roach admitted. "He fought a very awkward guy. Southpaw and real hard to cope with. I really wasn't impressed with the fight that much but we did the best we could. The Bradley fight will be a really tough fight, one in which we will have to dig down deep. It's going to be a hard fight."
On that same night the boxing world was witness to a huge upset as Victor Ortiz seized his potential with a wild unanimous decision over WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto in a fight that saw each man taste the canvas twice. It was a gritty and impressive performance but while some were shocked, Roach saw it coming from Ortiz all along.
"I picked him to win," said Roach. "At 147, he's much better at 147. He starved himself to make 140 and the higher weight was much better for him and I told him that for years."
I also had an interest in Roach's thoughts on WBC and WBO bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire, who currently has seen his career stalled after an attempted jump to Golden Boy Promotions from Top Rank that resulted in a court battle that ended up in the favor of Arum's outfit.
While being quick to admit that Donaire is a special kind of talent, Roach didn't want to make any accusations as to whether the 28-year old champion made the wrong move last month.
"To be outside looking in, it looked like a mistake but who knows the particulars of what is really going on. That's none of my business," said a modest Roach.
Pacquiao is set to defend his WBO welterweight strap on May 7th against Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand and when asked if a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. was still of interest, Roach firmly stated that he didn't care about that dream match anymore. Taking things even further, Roach wouldn't address any potential dancing partners for Pacquiao's following bout, should he beat Mosley, pointing out that only Shane matters at the moment.