By Michael Marley
A tailor by trade, Al Certo is also boxing's toughest trainer.
Now 82 years old, the suitmaker from Seacaucus, whose friends (I said friends, not associates) over the decades have included Frank Sinatra, heavyweight champ Jersey Joe Walcott and many other big names in sports and entertainment, has just taken over the duties of former WBA junior middleweight champion Yuri Foreman.
Foreman's on the comeback trail after a previously injured knee caused him to stumble around a Yankee Stadium ring last June against rugged Miguel Cotto. Foreman, the aspiring rabbi from Brooklyn by way of Belarus and then Israel, hopes to bounce back on the March 12 Bob Arum-Don King co-promotion at the MGM Grand which features Cotto against provacateur Ricardo Mayorga.
Mayorga-Cotto is, by Arum's design, a precursor to a possible July 16 "revenge bout" in which Cotto will take on his conqueror, Antonio Margarito. Margarito was a massacred Mexican in the ring with Manny Pacquiao but suspicions linger as to whether Margarito used illegal handwraps in that TKO victory.
Foreman had workmanlike Joe Grier as his chief second but now comes in Certo. Usually, I dissfavor fighters changing trainers after a loss because it's often a mental crutch but, sometimes change is good for change's sake.
Top Rank's ubqiquitous VP Carl Moretti concurs.
"Sometimes, a fighter just needs to hear a different voice from the corner. Al is an oldtimer who sees things and I don't think he will try to change Yuri too much. Having a different voice in his ear can beenfit the fighter in these cases," Moretti said.
Certo calls it like he sees it.
He's labeled Manny Steward "a legend in his own mind" and described Coach Freddie Roach "as a poor soul who should've been a catcher rather than a fighter."
But Certo says such things with a glint in his eye, without malice aforethought.