By Keith Idec
Miguel Cotto is 32 and has lost back-to-back fights for the first time in his 12-year pro career.
His new trainer realizes those realities will put the Puerto Rican star in a situation Saturday night in which he needs to defeat Delvin Rodriguez very impressively.
“We are in a must-win situation for sure,” Freddie Roach, who’ll work Cotto’s corner for the first time Saturday night in Orlando, Fla., said on a recent conference call. “That’s why we are working so hard and we are working well together. … We are working real hard and we know what the situation is.”
If Cotto can beat Rodriguez the way the odds suggest, the former three-division world champion will position himself for another big fight at 154 pounds. Cotto wouldn’t discuss potential fights against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez or anyone else, but Roach has seen enough from Cotto during their first training camp together that he believes Cotto still can compete at an elite level, despite consecutive 12-round, unanimous-decision losses to Floyd Mayweather Jr. (45-0, 26 KOs) and Austin Trout (26-1, 14 KOs).
“There is a good future [for Cotto] and that’s why we are working so hard to win this fight,” Roach said. “We know we are in a must-win situation, but a win here will put us in position for a lot of good things. I want Miguel to win a world title again and I look forward to being a part of that.”
Cotto, who hasn’t fought in 10 months, feels refreshed after his first full training camp with Roach at the trainer’s famed Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif.
“We have had a great training camp,” Cotto said. “We are committed to doing so good and to look amazing in the fight. We are working together to get the best out of me.”
The junior middleweight bout between Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs) and Rodriguez (28-6-3, 16 KOs), of Danbury, Conn., will be broadcast by HBO from Amway Center in Orlando. The three-fight telecast, scheduled to start at 9:45 p.m. ET/PT, also will include live coverage of a 10-round lightweight bout between Terence Crawford (21-0, 16 KOs), of Omaha, Neb., and Russia’s Andrey Klimov (16-0, 8 KOs) and taped footage of a heavyweight championship unification fight from Moscow that’ll match Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko (60-3, 51 KOs) against Russia’s Alexander Povetkin (26-0, 18 KOs).
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.