By Phil Doherty
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Upon first glance it might appear strange to the casual observer that Puerto Rican superstar boxer Miguel Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs) would start training with Freddie Roach in Los Angeles at this late stage of his career. Cotto speaks mostly Spanish and Roach speaks English. Cotto traditionally trains on the East Coast while Roach works out of the Wild Card Gym in LA. Sure Cotto implemented a revolving door of cornermen since his well documented dust-up with uncle Evangelista back in 2009 but one assumes he would prefer to be the only superstar in his trainer’s stable. Roach continues to train Filipino sensation Manny Pacquiao, who readies himself for a tough fight against Brandon Rios on November 23rd.
However, after listening to the two men discuss their current camp in advance of Miguel’s October 5th showdown in Orlando against Delvin Rodriguez (28-6-3, 16 KOs) the reasons become clear.
Both men are well respected in the sport for their professionalism and honesty. Both have taken their beatings inside and outside the ring with courage and honor. Most importantly, both men place paramount value on the relationship and inherent loyalty of their inner circles.
During a media teleconference this past Friday Cotto and Roach reflected on what this fight and the next few fights together will represent to them and the boxing world.
Roach started off the conference by stating: “We’ve had a great training camp. Miguel has an unbelievable work ethic, he’s sparring well, going nine rounds. We’re very happy with his progress. His punching power is coming back to what it once was. He’s definitely one of the best students I’ve ever had. We’re bringing back his speed, and he already had a great jab although he’d gotten a little lazy with some of his punches so we worked on that as well.”
When asked why he’d taken so long in between fights following his unanimous decision loss to Austin Trout last December, Cotto replied: “I wanted to rest my body and spend quality time with my family. This has been a really good camp, we are so committed to looking good for this fight. I feel rejuvenated.”
Top Rank Promotions president Todd duBoef, who’s maintained a long and lasting friendship with the thirty-two year old Puerto Rican icon, chimed in when asked a question about Miguel’s popularity with Puerto Rican fans. He answered: “Miguel is an icon in the Latin American community and his popularity is way beyond just regional. Obviously his connectivity to his Puerto Rican base is strong but Miguel has tremendous support from Latin American fans all over the world.”
duBoef followed up when asked about the response from his Puerto Rican fan base in Orlando by confirming: “Miguel and his team stated this is where they wanted the venue and we have to open up more and more sections of the arena. If the demand remains this strong we’re definitely going to have a total sellout.”
Fightnews asked Roach to explain if Miguel’s rediscovered punching power would include his seemingly long-forgotten body attack. Roach answered: “It’s a big part of the plan. When you think about the name Miguel Cotto you think about that left hook to the body. I’m not going to change people, we are what we are. I’ve been focused on the fundamentals and bringing back his body attack.”
When asked to compare his respectable performance against pound-for-pound kingpin Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. following Mayweather’s schooling of former unbeaten champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez last weekend, Cotto was magnanimous in his response. He explained: “It was a different fight. Against Floyd, my team and I came out with a different plan and we executed that plan. Canelo and his team fought the fight the way they thought was best.”
Roach addressed the current fight on the team’s plate by saying: “Styles make fights and Delvin’s got a very different style than Miguel. We’ve studied the tapes and picked up different things we feel we can exploit. I want Miguel to win the world title and I look forward to helping him do that.”
When asked if his other superstar and former Cotto vanquisher Manny Pacquiao had watched Cotto during training, Roach answered: “Yes, Manny asked if he could watch Miguel work out and I said of course you can. They are good friends and I can guarantee they will never fight each other again. Once Manny becomes friends with somebody he never fights them, that’s just the way he is.”
Seems like Roach’s circle of friends is growing as well.