Dan Rafael: Freddie Roach

Welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao, junior welterweight titlist Chris Algieri and their teams are about to embark on a trip that makes me ill to even think about.

In an effort to promote Pacquiao’s defense against Algieri on Nov. 22 (HBO PPV) at the Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena in Macau, China, the fighters, Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach, Algieri trainer Tim Lane, Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank, Algieri co-promoters Joe DeGuardia and Artie Pelullo, Ed Tracy (president and CEO of Sands China Ltd., which owns the Venetian Macao), publicists Fred Sternburg and Lee “Harv” Samuels and support staff will travel 27,273 miles over 12 days to six cities in two countries on a media tour.

The promotional tour kicks off with a news conference Monday at the Venetian Macao. Then they will fly to Shanghai for another news conference Tuesday, as well as an appearance at a card Top Rank is promoting that night at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. It is headlined by Randy Petalcorin against Walter Tello for a vacant interim junior flyweight title.

Then everyone heads to the United States for a series of events Aug. 29 at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The schedule includes a news conference, a photo opp with the San Francisco Giants, a Q&A with fans and a pregame ceremony.

On Aug. 30, the group will be at the Venetian in Las Vegas for a private event the casino is putting on. Then it’s off to Los Angeles. Pacquiao will throw out the first pitch for the game between the Dodgers and Washington Nationals on Sept. 1. On Sept. 3, there will be a Los Angeles news conference.

Then it’s cross-country to New York for a news conference Sept. 4, as well as other media appearances. They will close the tour by ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Sept. 4.

Then it’s off to training camp.
Freddie Roach, Miguel CottoChris Farina/Top RankFreddie Roach wouldn't mind a middleweight summit between Miguel Cotto and Gennady Golovkin.
Immediately after middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin knocked out former titleholder Daniel Geale in the third round last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York, he called for a fight with the real middleweight champ, Miguel Cotto.

Cotto had claimed the legit title by knocking out Sergio Martinez in the 10th round in the very same arena a month earlier to become the first Puerto Rican boxer to win world titles in four weight divisions.

Whether Cotto-Golovkin can be made remains to be seen, although both intend to fight again this year. It would be a big fight, but the conventional wisdom is that Cotto will not face an opponent nearly as dangerous as Golovkin to preserve the chance of an even bigger fight with Canelo Alvarez in the spring.

But if the Golovkin fight is presented to Cotto, trainer Freddie Roach said he certainly would not stand in the way.

"I like the Canelo fight better, but I like a fight with Golovkin second. I'd have no problem taking that fight," Roach said on Friday, over the phone from his Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California.

Roach was ringside for Golovkin-Geale. He had never seen GGG fight and wanted to get a good look at him up close. Roach's fighter, junior middleweight Glen Tapia, was supposed to be on the undercard, but when his bout was canceled at the last minute, Roach decided to remain in New York to watch Golovkin (30-0, 27 KOs).

He came away impressed, but not fearful of Cotto (39-4, 32 KOs) facing him.

"He hits very well. I don't think he has the best defense in the world, but he is a very offensive fighter and a strong puncher," Roach said. "If we did fight him I'd like the fight to be closer to 154 [pounds] to make him come down a little bit. He's very strong, but I think we definitely could negotiate that fight for sure.

"Cotto made 155 last time [for the Martinez fight]. He's a little smaller than Golovkin, so I'd like him to come down as far as possible."

If the fight were being negotiated, the weight shouldn't be a factor because Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions and trainer Abel Sanchez have said repeatedly that for a major fight Golovkin would come down as low as 154 pounds. Cotto would qualify as a major fight.

"It was the first time in my life I'd seen Golovkin," Roach said. "I was more impressed with his ring generalship than anything. He controls the ring very well. He knows how to cut the ring off. I am more impressed with that than anything because it's something not enough fighters know how to do. He has been taught well. I have Cotto doing that well too.

"Golovkin puts himself in great position to punch. He was very impressive. He took a punch to give a punch. He's very strong. His power is quite impressive, but he's knocking out middle-class guys, not top-level guys. I could definitely get Miguel ready for that fight."
Manny Pacquiao and Ruslan ProvodnikovReuters, Getty ImagesTrainer Freddie Roach will not pick sides should a Manny Pacquiao-Ruslan Provodnikov fight develop.
Welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao is due to return Nov. 22, probably in Macau, but he has no opponent at this point.

Of course, the talk is of a fifth fight with rival Juan Manuel Marquez, who became his mandatory challenger with a clear unanimous decision against Mike Alvarado on May 17 in an elimination fight. But what if they can't work out a deal? Who else is there for Pacquiao to fight in an interesting bout that is makeable in the morass of boxing politics?

Step right up, Ruslan Provodnikov.

Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KOs) certainly would need to take care of business in his first junior welterweight title defense against Chris Algieri (19-0, 8 KOs) on Saturday (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, in order to make the fight possible. But if he does, a fight with Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs) would certainly be interesting given the intense pressure both fighters are capable of applying.

Provodnikov has fought at welterweight, too, in an epic battle against then-titleholder Timothy Bradley Jr. Although Provodnikov lost a decision, it was the 2013 fight of the year and showed that Provodnikov is more than up to the task of carrying 147 pounds.

As most know, Pacquiao and Provodnikov have been sparring partners and they share Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach.

That would make a Pacquiao-Provodnikov pairing a bit dicey, wouldn't it? Well, not if you listen to Roach, who has a solution to the trainer conundrum.

"I have both fighters and I would hate to lose one of them, one of the fighters. But, the thing is, if the demand does come again, we're going to have to let it happen and it'd be a sad day for me," Roach said. "I'd probably sit out and just watch it on TV myself.

"Manny is my No. 1 guy and so forth, but Ruslan's very close to me. And Ruslan has been a very hard worker. But the demand is getting closer and closer, so with the win here [on Saturday] it could happen. And Manny is running out of opponents right now, and that's the way it goes."

Artie Pelullo, Provodnikov's promoter, who would certainly love to make the fight, said Roach wouldn't need to watch on television.

"We'll give him a ticket. Freddie, you got a ticket," Pelullo joked with Roach. "Don't worry about it. See? You got a ringside seat for the fight, Freddie. No problem."

If there’s one thing Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach likes to do, it’s predict a knockout victory for his fighter. So it comes as no surprise that he is calling for Miguel Cotto to knock out middleweight champion Sergio Martinez when they meet Saturday night (9 ET, HBO PPV) at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

“I think we win in four rounds,” Roach said. “Miguel's ring generalship alone will win this fight.”

Martinez’s response?

“Freddie Roach is excellent at telling jokes, and this is one of the best jokes he has ever told,” he said.

Roach said Cotto is “one of the hardest punchers” he has ever worked with -- and Roach has worked with many quality punchers, such as Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya.

“We are working every day on the mitts with my body protector on, and that doesn’t help that much anymore," Roach said. "Miguel goes right through that. His punching power is great, his speed has been good, and everything is right where I want it to be. Miguel is one of the hardest workers I have been with, and he is the most disciplined fighter I have ever worked with. We have a great relationship, and it will show in the fight.”

Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs), never one to make predictions, seemingly agreed with Roach’s prediction without saying it in so many words.

"I understand why Freddie is so confident and is saying the things he is saying,” said Cotto, who is seeking to become the first Puerto Rican fighter to win a world title in four weight classes. “He believes in me. We have worked hard in the gym. The work is almost done.

"Martinez is a world champion. I am prepared to fight, and I want to promise my fans I will do my best to win the world championship."

Cotto, who won titles at 140, 147 and 154 pounds, is moving up to 160, and Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs) does not believe his power will follow him up the scale again.

“Of course, I realize that Miguel does not have the same power at this weight that he had at 147, but I am the one that has the power in this case,” Martinez said. “I am the power puncher of the two of us. But the most important fact in this fight is going to be the intelligence that I am going to be able to use in this fight.

“I'm sure that I will win the fight by knockout because I'm training in a very hard and intense way and with such motivation that every day I'm hitting harder, throwing more punches. Whatever Cotto will do in the ring doesn't matter to me; I don't care. What is important is for me to be the day of the fight in the same state that I'm working right now. ... It is going to be an early stoppage.”

Glen Tapia's return set

May, 7, 2014
May 7
When last seen in the ring, junior middleweight prospect Glen Tapia made his HBO debut, taking on fearsome puncher James Kirkland on Dec. 7 and suffering a sixth-round knockout loss in a hellacious fight in which Tapia took a bad beating over the last couple of rounds.

It’s too soon to say whether those rounds of severe punishment may have ruined a promising career but we may soon find out as Tapia is due to return to action on June 14 in the main event of a “Solo Boxeo” card (UniMas) at Bally’s Atlantic City in Atlantic City, N.J.

Tapia (20-1, 12 KOs), 24, of Passaic, N.J., will face Keenan Collins (15-8-3, 10 KOs), 37, of York, Pa., in a scheduled 10-round bout. Collins is coming off a fourth-round knockout to promising middleweight Daniel Jacobs on April 27.

In the wake of the defeat, in which Tapia’s corner and the referee were overly brave by allowing Tapia (20-1, 12 KOs), who was out of it, to continue, the fighter made a big change, demoting trainer Alex Devia (“Show me some hop!”) and hiring Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach to run his corner.

Tapia has been training with Roach at his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., in preparation for the bout.

"Glen is so happy getting back into the ring after a well-needed rest,” manager Pat Lynch said. “He is ready to achieve his goal of becoming a world champion. Glen couldn't be more happier training with Freddie. It's something Glen wanted since meeting Freddie when he was in the Philippines [in training camp with] Manny Pacquiao before his [2010] fight with Antonio Margarito."

The card also will feature fights involving some of Top Rank’s best prospects, including Philadelphia super middleweight Jesse Hart (13-0, 10 KOs), Providence, R.I., featherweight Toka Kahn Clary (11-0, 8 KOs) and welterweight Egidijus Kavaliauskas (5-0, 4 KOs), a two-time Olympian from Lithuania.

When Timothy Bradley Jr. faced Manny Pacquiao two years ago and won an outrageous split decision and a welterweight belt in one of the worst calls in boxing history, Bradley himself knew that he did not fight as well as he is capable of.

Although Bradley insists that he rightfully won the fight -- saying that he thought it was 8-4 in rounds in his favor -- he has blamed his uneven (to be nice) performance on the fact that he injured both of his feet during the fight.

Now, as he prepares for the rematch on April 12 (HBO PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Bradley has said repeatedly that the reason he injured his feet is because he didn’t wear socks for the fight.

Say what? Yeah, it’s true.

“It was something I practiced during my training camp,” Bradley told HBO’s Jim Lampley during an interview on the network’s telecast of last Saturday night’s Sergey Kovalev-Cedric Agnew fight. “I’m a big fan of Mike Tyson and I was reading some Mike Tyson stories, and I read in one of the stories that he didn’t wear socks and I was puzzled by that, so I tried it out in training camp and it worked out very well. It felt really natural.

“So I figured, hey, let’s try it in this big fight, and it ended up backfiring on me. The ring was spongy. The ring was very soft and very bouncy, and it really allowed my feet inside of my shoes to really move around, and I didn’t have the support that I actually needed to be able to hang with Pacquiao’s speed.”

Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer, has said he hopes Bradley won’t have any excuses when Pacquiao wins this time. Perhaps partly as a mind game and certainly partly as a PR stunt, Roach had a box of socks sent to Bradley at his gym during his media day on Thursday along with a letter busting Bradley’s chops over sockgate:

“I have been reading your recent interviews with great interest, especially your explanation on how your feet were injured during your first fight with Manny Pacquiao. Is it really your feetal position that these injuries occurred because you did not wear socks?

“Though many members of the media think this excuse sounds like a hose job, I for one do believe you. To me, you are boxing’s No. 1 sox symbol. Please think of me not as your arch nemesis but as your sole supporter. I hope the enclosed gift helps with the heeling process.

“Sincerely, Freddie Roach”

At least when Bradley’s feet were hurt, he didn’t quit. He socked it up and kept fighting.

Manny Pacquiao spent the first few weeks of his training camp in the Philippines preparing for his April 12 rematch with welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. (HBO PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Last week, Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach returned to Roach's Wild Card Gym for the final weeks of camp.

Not surprisingly, Roach said he likes what he has seen so far. Of course, what trainer has ever said his fighter was having a terrible training camp?

So let's see what the Hall of Fame trainer had to say.

"Manny started the week a little slow due to jetlag but finished off strong on Saturday," Roach said. "He was just brilliant in his sparring on Saturday. His footwork was effortless, his hand speed was blazing and his power is as good as it has ever been.

"We are training for big game in this fight. Manny knows he is going to have to hunt Bradley down and close the show this time. The first fight with Bradley was so easy for Manny that after six rounds he just took it easy on him. Not this time."

When they first met in June 2012, Pacquiao looked as though he had cruised to a lopsided and easy unanimous decision. Then the judges shocked the world with two of them awarding Bradley the controversial split decision -- one of the worst decisions in boxing history.

Now, the two fighters are doing it again, and Roach expects Pacquiao to step on the gas this time.

"Our Mantra is 'Close the show. No mercy.' You don't have to be a groundhog to know that Bradley's days as welterweight champ are numbered," Roach said. "It's last call for Bradley on April 12.

"Manny is really motivated for this fight. We decided no matter how many fights we have remaining, we are determined to run the table and win every one. And when it is over, it is going to be as world champion. And that can only happen with a total and absolute victory over Bradley."

Roach also went after Bradley, who claimed he hurt both of his feet during the fight and showed up at his postfight news conference in a wheelchair.

"Bradley says he fought Manny last time with two bad feet. I don't remember him coming into the ring in a wheelchair," Roach said. "He hurt his feet when Manny connected his power punches on him. Manny hit Bradley so hard it broke his ankles.

"For Bradley to say, 'Manny doesn't have the hunger anymore and it's never coming back' and 'Manny no longer has his killer instinct,' that tells me that Bradley is still suffering from the concussion [Ruslan] Provodnikov laid on him."

Last March, in his first fight after the fight with Pacquiao, Bradley barely survived to win a decision against Provodnikov in the 2013 fight of the year. In his next fight, Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) outpointed Juan Manuel Marquez in October.

In Pacquiao's first fight following the Bradley controversy, Marquez knocked Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) out in the sixth round in December 2012 in that year's fight of the year. Pacquiao took nearly a year off before returning to rout Brandon Rios in a near-shutout decision in November in Macau.

Roach will now train Tapia

March, 16, 2014
Mar 16
James Kirkland-Glen TapiaChris Farina/Top RankAfter taking a beating from James Kirkland in his last fight, Glen Tapia, right, decided to change trainers.

Junior middleweight Glen Tapia made the trainer change this week that many believed he needed to make after the debacle of his last fight.

Tapia (20-1, 12 KOs) will now be trained by Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, although Tapia told ESPN.com that longtime trainer Alex Devia will remain part of his team as an assistant.

Tapia visited Roach at his Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., this week to work with him and finalize their arrangement. Tapia, 24, of Passaic, N.J., will report back to Wild Card on April 14 and begin training for a June 14 ring return.

Tapia is due to headline a “Solo Boxeo” card on UniMas from the ballroom at Bally’s in Atlantic City, N.J.

The fight will be Tapia’s first since he took a bad beating from James Kirkland over the second half of a sixth-round knockout loss on Dec. 7 on an HBO-televised undercard bout.

It had been a sensational action fight until Kirkland took over and dished out massive punishment in the final three rounds. Even with Tapia nearly out of it on the stool after the fourth and fifth rounds, Devia kept sending him back out. Instead of protecting his fighter or offering any meaningful advice, the best Devia could muster was to yell at his groggy charge, “Show me some hop!” It was embarrassing.

The switch is a good one for Tapia, who got to know Roach in 2010 when Tapia went to the Philippines as one of Manny Pacquiao’s sparring partners when Pacquiao was preparing for his fight with Antonio Margarito. Tapia immediately hit it off with Roach and Pacquiao.

“This is a big opportunity for me. I have a career and I got to think about that first,” Tapia said from Los Angeles, where he will be for a few more days. “I saw what Freddie had in the Philippines. When I came back to New Jersey after that camp it was like a new me. He teaches everything. Just talking to him and being in the ring he teaches you so much. I know what he can bring. He can bring a lot. It’s opportunity.

“Alex is here, he’s still around. He’s still part of the team. He’ll always be part of the team. We’re both happy with Freddie for the opportunity. Alex and I talked about it. This is a big opportunity for all of us. You have a short career in boxing. There’s a window you have and you have to take a chance.”

Tapia said he had considered asking Roach to train him in 2010, but stayed with Devia out of loyalty.

Pat Lynch, Tapia’s manager, said he was happy to see Tapia make the change.

“Glen and Freddie had a nice relationship from when Glen was Manny’s sparring partner and Freddie was who he had in his heart as the guy he wanted to train him. I never heard Glen sound so excited. He called me Thursday to talk to me about it. You could feel it through the phone how excited he was. He wants to get back on track and we believe Freddie will be the one to help him get there.”

Working with Roach also means Tapia will no longer train in his hometown, which is a good thing.

“There’s always little distractions being at home and people not understanding you’re in training camp. They don’t know, so that’s always a distraction,” Tapia said. “So it’s good to get away.

Get some good sun and some great training.”

Said Lynch, “It’s like a whole career starting for him. I like Alex, but it was time to make a change.”

Tapia said he has put the loss to Kirkland behind him, even though he was depressed and upset about it afterward.

“I’m 100 percent now,” he said. “I needed to take a break after that fight. I know that. My body was good, but mentally, I needed a break. I said, ‘Let me just stay out of the gym for a little bit.’”

He returned to the gym a couple of weeks ago and is excited about going back to training camp with Roach next month.

“I just can’t wait to get back in there and entertain people,” Tapia said. “I want to be champion and to entertain people.”

Legends meet: Pacquiao, Dylan

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
Bob Dylan, Manny PacquiaoChris Farina/Top RankMusic icon Bob Dylan visited Manny Pacquiao at the Wild Card Boxing Club.

Music legend Bob Dylan once wrote an entire song, “Hurricane,” about the plight of middleweight Rubin “Hurricane” Carter.

On Thursday, Dylan -- who is a boxing fan -- wasn’t singing about a boxer but rather was in Los Angeles in attendance at trainer Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood to watch the great Manny Pacquiao train.

They took time out to take a photo together and chat. Dylan, who used to train in a boxing gym, told Pacquiao how much he admired him, and Manny told Dylan how humbled he was that he had taken time out to come watch him train.

Pacquiao is getting ready for his rematch with welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. -- who got a gift decision in their controversial first fight -- on April 12 (HBO PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao began the American phase of his camp Monday after doing the first portion of his training in the Philippines.

Pacquiao in L.A. for next phase

March, 9, 2014
Mar 9
The Pacman has landed.

Manny Pacquiao, on a quest to regain his welterweight title when he meets Timothy Bradley Jr. in a rematch, arrived in Los Angeles from the Philippines on Saturday night -- via Philippine Airlines Flight 102 -- for the second part of his training camp.

Pacquiao, as the world knows, got ripped off badly in a massively controversial split decision to Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) in June 2012. The rematch is April 12 (HBO PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, same site as the first debacle.

Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) arrived in Los Angeles with trainer Freddie Roach and the rest of the team after training for the past several weeks in the Philippines. Pacquiao will finish his training camp at Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif.

"We had a great camp in the Philippines and Manny, as usual, is way ahead of schedule in his conditioning and very motivated," Roach said upon their arrival. “The real business begins for us on Monday at Wild Card. We have great sparring waiting for Manny. He wants that title back. If Bradley thinks he's going to see the same compassionate Manny he saw the first time they fought he is in for a very big surprise."

Pacquiao tweeted upon his arrival: “I am so happy to be back in LA training w/ Freddie Roach at Wild Card. I have really missed it.”

Trainers testier than Pacquiao, Rios

November, 19, 2013
Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios have shown a lot of respect for each other throughout the promotion for their fight. Sure, they both predict victories, but they haven't gotten on each other too much.
Their trainers? No so much.

There is no doubt that a fierce competition has brewed between Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer and a five-time trainer of the year, and Robert Garcia, Rios' head cornerman and the reigning trainer of the year.

Both are heavily invested in their fighter winning by knockout on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at CotaiArena at the Venetian Macao in Macau.

Roach has predicted that Pacquiao would stop Rios inside six rounds, but changed his tune the other day. Now he's saying Pacquiao will have an easier time with Rios.

"Manny's last training session was nothing short of amazing," Roach said. "We were supposed to do six rounds on the mitts and I cut it off after four rounds. They were the best four rounds of mitts I have ever done with Manny. He was blazing. He was throwing the heat.

"This was the happiest and most productive camp I have had with Manny in years. I know I predicted that Manny would knock Rios out inside six rounds, but based on our last workout, I don't see how Rios makes it past the fourth round."

Garcia is also talking a big game.

"Twice during the [first] two episodes of '24/7' I've heard Freddie Roach say he will ask Manny Pacquiao to retire if he loses to Brandon Rios," Garcia said. "Well, Freddie had better buy that gold watch for Manny, because the retirement party begins on Saturday night. I guarantee you this will be the last time you ever see Manny Pacquiao on an HBO Pay-Per-View."

Provodnikov OK with no Roach

October, 18, 2013

DENVER -- Junior welterweight contender Ruslan Provodnikov spent the last two months being trained by Freddie Roach, but Provodnikov won't have the Hall of Famer in his corner when he goes for a world title.

Russia’s Provodnikov (22-2, 15 KOs) challenges Denver’s Mike Alvarado (34-1, 23 KOs) for his 140-pound belt on Saturday night (HBO, 9:45 ET/PT) at the 1stBank Center in the Denver suburb of Broomfield, Colo., in a fight most everyone expects to be an action-packed brawl. Manning the corner in Roach’s place will be assistant trainer Marvin Somodio, who has been part of Provodnikov’s training camp.

Roach cannot make it to the fight because he is in the Philippines training his No. 1 client, Manny Pacquiao, for a Nov. 23 welterweight fight with Brandon Rios.

Roach and Provodnikov went their separate ways two weeks ago. Provodnikov had accompanied Roach to Orlando, Fla., to continue working with him while Roach was also finishing up with Miguel Cotto and working the corner for Cotto’s big knockout of Delvin Rodriguez on Oct. 5 at the Amway Center in Orlando.

Following the fight, Roach flew to the Philippines to be with Pacquiao, and Provodnikov came directly to Denver with Somodio.

Provodnikov, a former Pacquiao sparring partner, is OK with the situation. It’s not as though it came as a surprise. He and his team have known this would be the case since training camp started.

“From the beginning, we knew there was a chance that Freddie would not be in the corner on the day of the fight,” Provodnikov said through interpreter and manager Vadim Kornilov. “We knew he had obligations to Manny Pacquiao. We trained with Freddie for eight weeks exactly, and it has been an awesome training camp. Also we have been working on how we defeat Mike Alvarado. It has all come together. I am going to have Freddie’s assistant, Marvin Somodio, in my corner. Marvin has been there every day and I know what to do.

“I know what to do once the fight comes. I am not worried about Freddie not being there. He is obviously the backbone of our team. He is the captain, and I had hoped he could be there.”

Roach likes idea of Cotto-Sergio

October, 7, 2013

ORLANDO, Fla. -- After Miguel Cotto blew out Delvin Rodriguez in the third round of their junior middleweight fight on Saturday night at the Amway Center, talk immediately turned to what might be next for Cotto, who shook off a two-fight losing streak, looked great doing it in his first fight with trainer Freddie Roach and set himself up for another megafight.

The three obvious candidates for Cotto's next fight are a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. (who intends to fight in May), a showdown with former junior middleweight champ Canelo Alvarez in a classic Mexico-versus-Puerto Rico rivalry fight or a fight with middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.

Cotto sounded open to each of them, but did say the prospect of becoming the first Puerto Rican to win titles in four weight classes was appealing to him, which would mean fighting Martinez.

It's also a fight that Roach said he really likes.

"I know his style pretty well, and I think I know how to beat Sergio Martinez," Roach said at the news conference after Saturday's fight.

Roach, of course, was on the losing end 13 months ago when his fighter, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., was routed by Martinez in a lopsided decision, although Chavez did nearly score a 12th-round knockout.

"He's a great athlete," Roach said of Martinez, who is still recovering from knee surgery and unlikely to fight until at least the spring. "He's very fast, of course. But the thing is, he does have some flaws in his armor. I think we'd take advantage of them. That would be a fight I would love to get ready for. I think I have the right guy to do it this time."

Roach added that he isn't a fan of catchweight fights and that if the fight did happen, he would prefer to see it at 160 pounds. He said he would like to see Cotto get the chance to make Puerto Rican boxing history as its first four-division champion.

Pacquiao-Cotto II? No chance

October, 5, 2013

ORLANDO, Fla. -- If Miguel Cotto defeats Delvin Rodriguez on Saturday night at the Amway Center in their junior middleweight bout, Cotto will have ended a two-fight losing streak and put himself back in the picture for another mega fight.

Potential fights like a showdown with Canelo Alvarez or rematches with Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao -- all of which would be huge pay-per-view events -- get mentioned often.

But the one with the least chance to happen is a rematch with Pacquiao, who stopped Cotto in the 12th round to win a welterweight title in 2009.

There are legitimate reasons why it almost certainly will never happen again. They have become friends, they are in different weight classes and they are now both trained by Freddie Roach, who will be working with Cotto for the first time in the Rodriguez fight.

“I talked to Manny about it a little bit because Manny asked me if he could watch Miguel work out, and I said ‘of course you can.’ So Manny came to watch,” Roach said of one his training sessions with Cotto. “They shook hands and they are friends. Manny and Miguel will never fight each other [again]. They have had their fight and it’s over. Miguel is a 154-pounder and Manny is 147. They are friends now, and once Manny becomes friends with someone he will never fight them. They won’t fight, and I guarantee you that.”

Cotto, who made weight comfortably for the Rodriguez fight, said he is never going back to welterweight, which would rule out a Pacquiao rematch, even if they weren’t pals and didn’t share Roach.

“I don’t look forward to fighting anyone at 147. I don’t think Manny is looking forward to fighting anyone at 154,” Cotto said. “I think we both have our own careers and that’s the way it will stay.”

Pacquiao has something to prove

August, 1, 2013
Manny Pacquiao has won world titles in a record eight weight classes, been voted fighter of the year three times and fighter of the decade, and is a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Yet as successful as Pacquiao has been, even he is feeling a bit of pressure going into his next fight, a welterweight showdown with former lightweight titlist Brandon Rios, whom he will meet in a scheduled 12-round bout on Nov. 23 (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at the CotaiArena at the Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel in Macau.

"I am feeling a little pressure for this fight since I have lost my previous two," Pacquiao said this week while in China on the first leg of a mind-boggling 23,722-mile media tour that will take the fighters to seven cities in three countries -- China, Singapore and the United States -- as they promote the fight. "An impressive victory against Rios will raise my name again in boxing. My belief in God, and training as hard as I can, will help to relieve that pressure."

Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) has two official losses in a row, a one-punch sixth-round knockout loss in his fourth fight with rival Juan Manuel Marquez (the 2012 knockout of the year) in December and an all-time controversial split decision loss to Timothy Bradley Jr. last June.

"I was in my best shape when I fought Marquez last December," Pacquiao said. "I was winning the fight. I had taken control. But I got careless and made a mistake, being in the wrong place for him to land that final punch. But that's boxing. That's what makes it so exciting."

So the record reads consecutive defeats and Pacquiao is aiming to get back on track against Rios (31-1-1), who is coming off of his first defeat, a decision in his thrilling March rematch against Mike Alvarado.

"I need to prove I still can fight like the old Manny Pacquiao," he said. "I need to restore the public's confidence in me and my abilities. It's important that this be an impressive victory. I have already begun to visualize my fight with Rios."

Like Pacquiao, Rios is a very aggressive fighter. But Pacquiao has had many more big fights and faced many more top-notch opponents, which PacMan figures will work to his advantage.

"I have seen Rios fight and I am confident that I will win the fight," Pacquiao said. "One of my advantages is my experience against better opposition. I think the question that needs to be asked is, 'Is Rios ready for me?'

"Rios is an aggressive fighter. He likes to fight on the inside and toe-to-toe. He likes to fight, period. I am 100 percent confident of winning this fight. The fans will really enjoy the action."

Pacquiao normally splits his training camp between his home country of the Philippines and Hollywood, Calif., where trainer Freddie Roach's gym is located. For this fight, because it's in Asia, Pacquiao said he will train exclusively in the Philippines.

"It will be nice to fight in a location where I will not have any jetlag," Pacquiao said. "Macau and the Philippines share the same time zone and the same climate. No adjustments for me this time. Since Macau is only a 90-minute flight away from the Philippines, I expect a lot more Filipinos to be in the arena for this fight.

"I will begin three months of training in August when I return to the Philippines after the media tour. I'll do six weeks of conditioning and building up my stamina, followed by a six-week training camp with Freddie Roach when he arrives in October. I'm 34 and I now need to train over a longer period. The focus of this camp will be on speed and footwork, which have been my advantages in previous successful fights. I'll be more careful to avoid the careless error I made against Marquez."