Freddie Roach Q&A in advance of Pacquiao-Bradley II
LOS ANGELES -- Hall of fame trainer Freddie Roach is entering a particularly busy stretch. On Saturday, April 12, Roach will be in Manny Pacquiao's corner for the rematch with Tim Bradley. On April 25, Roach is scheduled to be in Russia for former cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev's rematch with Guillermo Jones. On June 7, Roach will assist Miguel Cotto in his bid to become the first ever Puerto Rican to win titles in four weight classes when he takes on Sergio Martinez. Later in the month, Roach will work the corner for his latest rising star, Ruslan Provodnikov.
SI.com sat down with Roach last week to talk about some of his upcoming fights:
SI.com: You have been with Manny Pacquiao for a long time -- are training camps really that different?
Roach: The only changes we make are with strategy. I can't teach him anything new. We work on the style of his opponent. For me, it's trying to predict how [Bradley] is going to fight us. Manny thinks that Bradley is going to fight a little bit small. He thinks he is going to be dipping and sliding. I think he is going to stand up more like he did in his last fight and be more of a counterpuncher. Usually when a guy has success, like Bradley did against [Juan Miguel] Marquez, they are going to try to duplicate that.
SI.com: Is Bradley tougher to prepare for than he was two years ago?
Roach: "It's tougher. He fought different against Ruslan than he did against Manny. So he's tougher to predict. But a couple of basic things are there. He will exchange because when he gets hit his instinct is to fight back. He's a little wild when he comes forward. He sticks his chin up a little bit. I think Manny can hit him with some serious shots down the middle when he does that.
SI.com: Where is Manny at mentally?
Roach: He's pretty good. We had a bad week last week because of the sinus infection. That slowed him down a lot. It was really bothering him. Bob [Arum's] doctor came down to look at him, gave him some medication and took care of that. It went longer than it should have. He should have gone to the doctor earlier, but he is a little hard headed about that stuff. He doesn't like to see doctors, he doesn't like to take pills. If he finishes that prescription, I'll be surprised.
But he's pretty much the same guy. I think the biggest problem right now is these pastors keep coming around at odd hours to have him pray. When he is sleeping, you have to leave him alone. I do. I wait hours for the guy if he is sleeping. If he is sleeping, he must need it. I'm not happy with those guys so much, but that is his choice. I'm not going to go babysit.
SI.com: Where are you at with Cotto?
Roach: He came to me a couple of months ago and asked me what I wanted him to work on. So when he got here, he was halfway there already. He trained at home, so he started camp way ahead of schedule. Sparring starts for him on the 14th. I've got a number of names of sparring partners. Not sure who I am going to pick yet. We need fast guys with fast hands. Obviously Martinez is getting old, but he is still fast.
But I really like this fight for Miguel. People at Top Rank think Cotto is going to have trouble with Martinez's speed. But I don't think Martinez is a great boxer. I think he is a great athlete, but not a great fighter. I think what we are working on is going to work. We want to press the issue.
SI.com: What's the latest with Provodnkov?
Roach: Ruslan is going to fight Chris Algieri. There were four names. Antonio DeMarco was one of them, but I said no. DeMarco is my guy and I didn't want him to fight Ruslan. There was Thomas Dulorme and [Karim Mayfield], but I didn't want them either. But those guys are kind of ugly. That was a terrible fight. I had Mayfield in camp with Manny and I had to fire him. There were too many elbows and head butts. I think Algieri is the best choice. Ruslan will be in camp after Manny's fight and we will take his camp to New York for Cotto's fight. It should be pretty smooth.
More news and notes...
• Heavyweight contender Steve Cunningham gave his career a badly needed boost last weekend, outpointing Amir Mansour in an entertaining fight. Cunningham, 37, says he wants a heavyweight title shot but a crack at a former heavyweight titleholder could be more likely. Main Events promoter Kathy Duva told SI.com that she would like to make a fight between Cunningham and Alexander Povetkin. Stylistically, that fight is a good match.
• Plenty of people have been calling for a rematch between Curtis Stevens and Taureano Johnson. Stevens stopped Johnson on the undercard of Cunningham-Mansour, rallying from a big deficit to finish Johnson off in the final round. Was it a quick stoppage? Maybe. Was it a terrible stoppage? Hardly. Stevens had Johnson hurt and sagging against the ropes and was unleashing a barrage of punches. And though Johnson protested vehemently after the fight, watch the replay closely. There was a two-second window between when referee Gary Rosato stopped it and when Johnson went off where Johnson looked lifeless. Two seconds is a long time for a power puncher like Stevens to tee off.
That said, Johnson deserves a rematch. And Main Events isn't opposed to it. They would like to see HBO pick it up though, so the fighters can make some more money off of it.
• Speaking of that show, the NBC Sports Network series continues to produce strong ratings. The Cunningham-Mansour card averaged 288,000 viewers on the network on Friday night.
• Promoter Tom Loeffler told SI.com that he hopes to have Gennady Golovkin in Las Vegas next week for Pacquiao-Bradley to start promoting a planned summer fight between Golovkin and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Golovkin, who has been home in Kazakhstan mourning after the untimely death of his father, has not yet returned to the United States. Loeffler said he is still negotiating the finances with Top Rank, but said that the target date of July 19 in Los Angeles was likely.
• Loeffler said a heavyweight fight between contenders Mike Perez and Bryant Jennings was still being worked on. Loeffler and Jennings's promoter, Gary Shaw, have agreed to a May 24 date on HBO for the fight, but are still working out the details. Among them is the location. Loeffler said several venues were in discussion, all on the west coast.
• While HBO sorts through possible opponents for Sergey Kovalev, Kovalev plans on staying busy. Duva told SI.com that Kovalev intends to return to the ring in March, in Russia, in a fight that will likely be off of HBO. Kovalev suffered two significant cuts during his title defense against Cedric Agnew last month, but Duva says she has been informed by Kovalev that they will not be a problem for a May fight.