by David P. Greisman
Miguel Cotto’s big win over Sergio Martinez on Saturday wasn’t the first time that Freddie Roach trained a fighter to challenge the middleweight champion.
It was the first time his fighter succeeded, though.
Roach was in the corner of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. back in September 2012. Martinez out-boxed Chavez for 11 rounds, Chavez hurt Martinez badly and dropped him in the 12th, and Martinez got up, exchanged punches, made it to the final bell and took the decision.
Cotto took it to Martinez from the outset, dropping him three times in the opening round, hurting him again and again, out-boxing him later on and winning via stoppage when Martinez’s trainer kept him in his corner as the 10th round was beginning.
“We had a great game plan. He followed it to a T,” Roach said of Cotto afterward. “He’s maybe one of the best students I’ve ever had. Thank you, Miguel, for making me look so good.”
Roach said Cotto’s control of the ring contributed to the victory.
“Ring generalship is pretty much a lost art in boxing and something that Eddie Futch, my trainer, really taught me well. It’s just something I taught Miguel,” Roach said. “We had him moving into the right hook all night long and it worked very well. He really gave the guy a boxing lesson. When I said we’d knock him out inside of four, I just wanted to get inside their heads a little bit. But the real game plan was to out-box this guy. I thought Miguel is a better boxer than Martinez.
“He [Martinez] moves with no plan of attack. He’s just trying to use his speed and he kind of like plays with his left hand, trying to get you to pull back so he can land the big overhand left, but we were well prepared for that, and it never happened.”
Later, he added: “I had the right guy this time that would follow the game plan. We did well.”
That was a contrast with Chavez, though Roach was also complimentary of how the fighter and trainer had worked together in other bouts before the one against Martinez.
“Chavez is a good friend of mine. We had three great fights together. He never said ‘no’ to me once in training camp. He was one of the best students and we had some great results,” Roach said. “But then with the Martinez fight, something just happened and he just fell apart. He only trained five days for that fight.
“Miguel trained nine hard weeks for this fight. He listened to the game plan. He followed it to a T. It was just impossible to get Chavez ready in five days. I don’t know what changed. All of a sudden, he just wanted to be the boss.”
“Miguel is a great student. His dedication and his discipline are unbelievable. We start at 5 a.m. every morning in the gym. I hate getting up early. But we start at 5 a.m. every day. He’s there at 4:45. We work three hours on strength and conditioning, then he goes home to rest for a while, gets something to eat, and he comes back at 1 o’clock and we do two and a half hours of boxing. He is a very dedicated guy. And that’s why, at his age, he’s so good.”
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]