Roach has full slate with Cotto, Provodnikov

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
3:31
PM ET
Saturday night, his top client turned in a damned fine performance, no matter what the nattering naysayers, the critique cabal, might be saying.

Freddie Roach deserves a splash of sun, a session at a fancy resort kicking back, sipping cool beverages of funky hues while ogling poolside talent.

Freddie Roach-Miguel Cotto
Chris Farina/Top RankIt doesn't look like Freddie Roach will be relaxing pool-side any time soon.
So, I asked Freddie, who I caught on the phone Monday morning, what about it -- are you about to board a private jet to the Turks and Caicos, get yourself some deserved R 'n' R after Manny Pacquiao showed the sportsworld that he had Timothy Bradley's number in 2014, and oh yeah, 2012 as well?

"I just finished training Miguel Cotto," the six-time Boxing Writers Association Trainer of the Year told me. "He had a conditioning workout at 5 a.m. He starts sparring tomorrow."

Nope, Freddie didn't bite. He didn't talk about the need for some downtime, the yen for an island getaway. No sir, he was where he feels most comfortable, most in a flow, his space, his place, the Wild Card Gym in LA. And there was no place he'd rather be.

Cotto counts down to a stern test, a challenge of middleweight titlist Sergio Martinez at Madison Square Garden on June 7. (Oh, and by the way, in case you didn't know, that bout will unfold in the big room, not the Theater. And, I dare say, that big room will be packed to the pennant flags with rabid fight fans, who'll be collectively testing the sturdiness of the eardrums of everyone in the room.)

"Then, Ruslan Provodnikov [who holds the WBO 140 pound title] comes next week," Roach told me.

Provodnikov (23-2 with 16 KOs; born in Beryozovo, Russia; promoted by Banner Promotions), who took part in the BWAA's 2013 Fight of the Year, losing a UD12 to Timothy Bradley last March, meets Long Islander Chris Algieri at Barclays Center June 14. Roach has worked with the "Siberian Rocky" for his last several fights, and the two seem a nice fight. Both ruthlessly committed to the sport, both fans of conclusively finishing fights, and taking it out of the hands of judges, whose scores so often lead us to assume they are either corrupt or buffoonish.

I asked Roach if Algieri (19-0 with 8 KOs; lives in Huntington, LI, promoted by Joe DeGuardia's Star Boxing) will present a problem for Provodnikov, who took that title from Mike Alvarado, on Alvarado's home turf in Colorado, on Oct. 19, 2013.

"Algieri is a conditioning freak, a real athlete, a mover, not a big puncher," said the 54-year-old Dedham, Massachusetts native. "He will try to outbox Ruslan, and we will put pressure on him, cut off the ring."

I joked that fighting a guy like Ruslan, it's like the ring starts out at 20 feet, shrinks to 16 feet by the fourth, 12 feet by the 8th, and it feels like you're fighting in a Manhattan studio apartment by round 12. Freddie chuckled.

"But I respect Algieri a lot," he continued. He said he has watched some footage of the Long Islander, but is working on securing more, not easy to do because he has been mostly fighting off TV. "He's a good boxer," Roach said, in closing, as he prepared to hang up the phone, so he could attend to another client, keep doing what he lives for, preparing fighters to fight.
Michael Woods, a member of the board of the Boxing Writers Association of America, has been covering boxing since 1991. He writes about boxing for ESPN The Magazine and is the news editor for TheSweetScience.com.

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