Roach has a way with experienced fighters. Manny Pacquiao was an experienced world champion and been knocked out twice when he hooked up with Roach for what would become an all-time great championship run through a million divisions. James Toney was also with Roach for his last hurrahs. Oscar De La Hoya experienced some success early on versus Floyd Mayweather with Roach in the corner. Roach is not offering guaranteed victory when he takes on a fighter. What he brings to the table is elite-level experience gleaned from years in upper echelon title fights, an ability to assess fighters like few men in the game and a passion for his work.
“I don’t think some people understand, when you get an older fighter, you can’t just push, push, you know? ’Do more.’ Work just because you want to work harder. You have to look for the strengths and weakness. Like [Cotto] used to run six days a week. I cut him back to three days a week and we’re doing machines, less strenuous stuff on his off-days. He feels a lot better, his weight is coming off and he is on a really good diet right now. I just think I can treat a fighter who has been around for awhile at the level that he should be treated. The thing is, you can’t just push, push, push because it doesn’t work that way.”
Cotto also added strength coach Gavin MacMillan, who also trains Provodnikov and St. Pierre, to his team at Roach’s recommendation. MacMillan will be profiled tomorrow on Maxboxing.com.
“Gavin worked out really well. He worked with Ruslan in his last fight [vs. Tim Bradley]. We had a good performance I felt. He is a very knowledgeable guy and I was looking for a strength coach and I called George St. Pierre. He told me Gavin is the best he has ever worked with,” said Roach. “He meets Miguel every morning at 5 AM to go run. We actually have a hill run that is supposed to be eight miles. Miguel one day said ’I will meet you back at the gym’ and he ran all the way to the gym and turned it into an eleven and a half mile run. When you have guys like that to work with it, it makes it a lot of fun. It’s really nice to have someone with a great work ethic, like Manny Pacquiao. That’s why these guys like that are still functional and still in action because their work rate is so high.”
Cotto is not a natural 154 pound fighter. Though he has managed to gather a title at junior middleweight, Cotto’s heydays were back at 140-147 pounds. Roach feels those days may return.
“At 154, he is a little stronger than he was at 147. The thing is, this camp has been so good he is only two pounds over as we speak. I think it might be realistic his next fight could be at 147. Seeing how the weight comes off I think 147 is a possibility. I think the weight might be better for him. I think he might be a lot stronger there. Physically, for a 154-pounder, he is not the biggest guy in the world,” assessed Roach.
Cotto is returning after a December 2012 points loss to Austin Trout, a left-handed pure boxer out of Las Cruces, NM. Before that, Cotto lost on points in a spirited effort to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Neither loss is a blight on a stellar 37-4 with 30 knockouts record. With likely 3-4 fights left, Cotto and Roach might make for an interesting and possibly formidable team.
“The thing is I like offensive fighters. I am a very offensive-minded trainer,” said Roach. “I believe that to win fights you have to throw punches. So, we do click together pretty well. The body work he’s been using has been great. I love what we’re doing so far and it’s working great.”
Some pundits criticized Cotto for taking on Roach, citing his former coach, Pedro Diaz, who crafted a beautiful game plan for Mayweather, as superior for Cotto. Roach disagrees, citing the aggression Cotto showed early in his career as a rib-killing body punching machine.
“The thing is, [Pedro Diaz] is an amateur coach that has that amateur style that uses a passive defense. In a passive defense there is no counter punching. There’s no counter shots. He just blocks a shot and lead with your hands up and you leave your body open. And you leave yourself vulnerable to body shots,” explained Roach. “I wanted to see the old Miguel Cotto that has a great left hook to the body and breaks people down and gets them out of there in the later rounds. We’ve been working on that quite a bit. He’s getting better and better every day. We sparred nine rounds today. It was his best day yet. So we’re very happy. For a guy who is supposed to be near the end of his career, his work ethic is very good. He is unbelievable. Every morning he comes in at 5 AM. We do strength and conditioning. We do three hours. He goes home and rests for awhile. Gets some food in him. 2-4 we are doing the boxing workout. We are averaging 12 rounds of mitts a day. When I think of Miguel Cotto, I think of that guy who goes to the body. He’s getting there.”
With two fighters in their waning days in Pacquiao and Cotto and a rising star in Provodnikov who the public is just getting to know, on some level it is just like the good old days when Wild Card fighters were underdogs.
“Yeah but you know, the thing is you cant just take the jobs that are easy,” said Roach. “I believe Miguel he had the balls to call me up and ask I could help him. The last time we had spoke was at the weigh-in for Pacquiao and we didn’t say kind words for each other, believe me. I didn’t think he even liked me at that point because of the Pacquiao fight. We said some nasty things said to each other. He fired at me or I fired back or vice versa. But you know, you get a call like that, with someone of his caliber that wants help, I am going to jump at that opportunity every time. If I could make someone a better fighter, I am going to do that. My passion for him to be his best in this fight is 100%. There’s guys out there that tell me ’I can’t push fighters no more. I want to be an actor’ or something like that. Comments like that. I say, ’Shit. I spend 12 hours a day in this gym every day of my life. This is what I do.’ So when a guy like Miguel Cotto says ’I think I still has some fight left in me. Can you give me a hand’, I am going to say ’Yes.’ Its a bit of a challenge for me but I love challenges.”
For the rest of the interview follow the link: