Thursday, October 29, 2009

Roach Hints at Strategy for Miguel Cotto

Freddie Roach took some time out of his busy schedule on Wednesday to explain how he believes Manny Pacquiao will defeat Miguel Cotto.

The Hall of Fame bound duo of trainer Freddie Roach and boxer Manny Pacquiao endured a battering of questions Wednesday during an international conference call with a bevy of writers and reporters from around the world.

If you listened closely, it was easy to determine what Roach's strategy for the “Filipino Spitfire” will be when he meets Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14 in Las Vegas. While there was nothing “new” per se – there were some revealing comments and some hints at what we will see transpire when “Firepower” ignites at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.

“I've studied all of the tapes on him and so forth,” said Roach of Cotto. “He's never fought a guy like Manny Pacquiao, with his speed. I think that's where he's going to have trouble is with the speed.”

Roach went on to say that despite reports to the contrary, the solid month of training camp that took place at Baguio City in the Philippines, “Were the best first four weeks we've ever had.”

As for Cotto's plan of attack against Pacquiao, Roach made an interesting observation.

“I expect him to be a counterpuncher and not come at us,” he said.

That would certainly be a change of pace for Cotto who characteristically has been somewhat of a stalker who presses the action, comes forward, and looks to land damaging shots in an effort to take his opponent out.

Roach, strength and conditioning expert Alex Ariza and Pacquiao share a laugh during training camp earlier this month.

Roach said that he wants Manny to start very quickly and keep his back off the ropes. The plan is to keep the fight in the center of the ring. It is there that Roach feels Pacquiao can use his speed and movement to befuddle Cotto, who some have described as a plodder.

“To stay off the ropes would be to our benefit, I feel,” said Roach.

In terms of what they have been concentrating on in training camp, Roach mentioned more than once that the “left hook” of Cotto is the punch that they will be watching for and that they will make every effort to elude.

“Miguel has a pretty good left hook,” said Roach. “But that doesn't win fights, boxing ability wins fights.”

Clearly, Roach is of the notion that Pacquiao is the quicker, faster fighter who possesses the more refined boxing skills. It is those “improving” skills which he believes will result in a Pacquiao win, possibly by knockout.

“We’re working the mitts with Manny and at this weight he is punching so much harder than he ever has,” said Roach who had a touch of weariness in his voice. “He’s punching fast and hard and I just think Miguel Cotto’s defense isn’t good enough - and people that Manny hits, he knocks out.”

In terms of how Roach sees Manny in the grand scheme of things, he claims that Manny is full of surprises and that his skills are continually evolving.

Pacquiao is one of the hardest gym workers in the sport. His training regimen is not for the faint of heart.

“He’s improving all the time,” he said. “We’re just taking the style of our opponent and making adjustments. We’re making adjustments for Cotto’s style and his big left hook. We’re not inventing the wheel. We’re just making adjustments to our opponent. Manny’s very good at having a game plan and sticking to it.”

Pacquiao is now sparring within the friendly confines of the Wild Card Gym with Rashad Holloway, Ray Beltran and Shawn Porter. “He was getting a little too used to the sparring partners we had,” Roach said. “We got some fresh guys in there to liven it up a little bit and keep Manny more focused.”

Roach seems assured of a Pacquiao victory and he said that because of Manny's commitment to his craft that the night of Nov. 14 should be another successful one.

“He’s going to be a seven-time world champion,” said the esteemed trainer. “And he’s still learning and he’s very hungry to improve. I think I have the greatest fighter in the world today and I think we’ll find out again with Miguel Cotto.”

October 2009

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