Former three-division world champion and the Pride of Puerto Rico Miguel Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs), of Caguas, Puerto Rico, is in his final weeks of training with Hall of Famer Freddie Roach at Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif. Cotto is preparing for his 12-round super welterweight battle with Top-10 contender and two-time world title challenger Delvin Rodriguez (28-6-3, 16 KOs), of the Dominican Republic. Cotto vs. Rodriguez will take place Saturday, October 5, at the home of the Orlando Magic, Amway Center, in Orlando, Fla. Cotto’s Florida debut will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing®, beginning at 9:45 p.m. ET/PT.
TODD duBOEF: Thanks, everybody, this is a wonderful day. We are only a couple weeks away from the fight and it is great to be promoting once again with Miguel’s promotional company Miguel Cotto Promotions on October 5th at the Amway Center in Orlando. Obviously the reunion between the two of us has been terrific and the show we have put together has been absolutely fantastic from top to bottom using a combination of Miguel’s fighters and Top Rank fighters. The way the tickets have sold and the interest in the fight – the fans have come out – from the press conference where the Mayor was such an advocate of the show – we have seen unprecedented support from the Coty of Orlando which hasn’t really had a fight in many, many years, especially of this caliber. I could talk more about the show but I am sure you want to hear from Freddie and Miguel and how that combination is going.
FREDDIE ROACH: We have had a great training camp so far and Miguel is a great student. His work ethic is unbelievable and we are working really hard here at the Wild Card. Sparring is going really well – we did nine rounds yesterday. I am really happy with the way things are coming. Strength coach Kevin MacMillan is doing a very good job with Gavin [MacMillan] and they work very well together. We have a really good team and I am excited for the fight coming up. I am looking forward to Miguel fighting with us for the first time. His progress is great and his punching power is coming back to where it once was. Miguel has been one of the best students I have ever had.
MIGUEL COTTO: We have had a great training camp. We are committed to doing so good and to look amazing at the fight. We are working together to get the best out of me and that’s all I can really say about it.
Why the long break in between fights?
MIGUEL COTTO: I have had a lot of fights over my career and we thought it would be good to take a break. I feel good now with all of the training sessions we have had in LA and things are very good right now.
Do you put pressure on yourself since you have lost two fights in a row?
MIGUEL COTTO: I am just thinking about being in the best shape possible and we have no doubt that we will prepare the best.
Freddie, can you talk about the pressure of a ‘must win’ fight?
FREDDIE ROACH: We are in a must-win situation for sure. That’s why we are working so hard and we are working well together. We start conditioning work every morning at 5 AM and that ends at 8 AM. That leaves Miguel a little time to rest then we come back to the gym at 2 PM and from 2-4 we are sparring or working with the mitts. We do about nine rounds every day. We are working real hard and we know what the situation is.
Did you feel there was anything you needed to change in Miguel?
FREDDIE ROACH: I watched the Trout fight and we talked about why he thought he lost that fight. He thought he wasn’t busy enough and I want to bring back that work to the body – his bread and butter. That’s what got him to where he is today. I am not going to change him of course because he is a great fighter as he is. We just need a reminder of the fundamentals of boxing.
How do you feel you can still compete against the elite of the sport?
MIGUEL COTTO: I feel that I can fight against the best at any time. I just made the fight with Mayweather last year. I made that fight. I fought that fight and then I fight the next fight.
Freddie, do you think the body attack will be back?
FREDDIE ROACH: I think that’s a big part of what we have been working on. When you think of Miguel Cotto, you think of great bodywork. Lefts to the body we have been working on quite a bit and we have also been working on a lot of new moves and it’s been working out really well. Again is work ethic.
How do you feel about fighting in Orlando in front of all the Puerto Rico fans?
MIGUEL COTTO: Fighting in front of that whole Puerto Rican community is going to be amazing to me.
How did you decide to be trained by Freddie Roach?
MIGUEL COTTO: At this point in my career I realized that I want my career to finish with Freddie on my side.
How do you go about training someone that knows so much?
FREDDEIE ROACH: The thing is, I am not going to change people. I don’t believe in changing people. We are what we are and it’s pretty much, when he was at his best it was the fundamentals of boxing which he excelled at and he had gotten away from the body attack a little bit and we got that back in line. He’s been getting a little older and so-forth so we cut back in the roadwork and do more conditioning because running every day for six days a week your whole life is hard on your body. So we cut back on that a little bit and added a few things to replace it. It’s going really well and I can’t wait for him to get in the ring for the first time with me in the corner.
Did you see anything from the Pacquiao-Cotto fight you would fix?
FREDDIE ROACH: When I trained Manny for that fight the biggest thing was to stay off the ropes because if you go on the ropes, Miguel is going to hit you with the left hook to the body and that was something we had to stay away from. That was the biggest thing we worked on in camp. Miguel would sometimes get a little lazy with his punches. He has great speed with his punches so we have been working on that and it’s been working quite well.
Have you had a fighter you worked against then worked with him?
FREDDIE ROACH: I have been in this situation before. I trained Donny LaLonde against Virgil Hill and Virgil was one of my first world champions so it was just once before in my life so getting the call from Miguel asking me to help him made me feel really good. I know he’s a great fighter and if I can make someone a better fighter, I’m here. I just want to bring back the best of Miguel Cotto – lefts to the body then to the head and efficient combinations and breaking his opponent down– that’s where we want to get to. We’ve had some good sparring partners so far and it’s worked out really well.
FREDDIE ROACH: I’m not really bringing things back, I am just trying to remind him of what worked best and to use it more. He knows how to do it he had just gotten away from it a little bit so it is really just a reminder of what works best. It is there naturally. It is part of his mechanics. It’s just fundamentals – how to cut the ring off and how to control the ring a little bit better. We are working really well together, we have had a great training camp and we have a couple more weeks to go and I look forward to going to Florida soon.
How do you see the future of Miguel Cotto?
FREDDIE ROACH: There is a good future and that’s why we are working so hard to win this fight. We know we are in a must-win situation but a win here will put us in position for a lot of good things. I want Miguel to win a word title again and I look forward to being a part of that.
MIGUEL COTTO: There are no possibilities beyond this fight to think about. The only possibility I have right now is to fight Delvin Rodriguez on October 5 in Orlando. Then after Delvin we can talk about what is next in my career. Right now I ham very happy with Freddie and the way we are training here and looking for good things to happen when I get inn the ring at Amway Center.
Todd, tell us about his popularity in Orlando.
TODD duBOEF: Miguel is an icon within the Latin community and I wouldn’t designate a specific territory. Throughout Latin America, Puerto Rico, Mexico – everywhere. Obviously the connectivity to his home base, which are people of Puerto Rican descent, they look at him as one of them. So if they are in New York, Orlando, Caguas or San Juan, they are the same fan. We looked at other facilities in other places and Amway Center was one that Miguel’s team wanted and we worked together with his team in establishing this venue and the response has been incredible. We keep having to open up sections and adding seats and we look for an electric night. His popularity is way beyond regional – he is an icon within the whole Latin community.
Do you see a sellout?
TODD duBOEF: Relatively speaking, yes. We keep opening up new sections. If the demand stays strong, we are going to be totally sold out.
You have a common opponent in Trout; does it help in preparing for Rodriguez?
FREDDIE ROACH: Delvin has a whole different style than Miguel does and styles make fights. We have studied the fights of those tapes and picked up things here and there. Overall, watching, not just because they both fought Trout and he is a common opponent, No.
MIGUEL COTTO: I didn’t see the fight between Trout and Delvin Rodriguez but we just create out strategy here in training camp and that’s what we are going to follow the day of the fight.
Do you feel camaraderie with Miguel?
FREDDIE ROACH: Yes, my whole team does. Everyone loves him in the gym and he gets along with everyone. Everything is working out very well and he seems comfortable here in LA. I’ve been over to his house a couple of times. We watched the Mayweather fight together. It’s a good situation because we are all on the same team. His family is kind and we are going to have a lot of big fights after this.
MIGUEL COTTO: The way things are going makes me feel like I am going to finish my career with him here. I feel I can do the best I can with Freddie.
Do you think you did the best against Mayweather?
MIGUEL COTTO: That is a different fight and I don’t want to talk about Canelo. He had his own strategy and he made his own fight and I made mine. I tried my way against Floyd and he tried his. That’s all I have to say about it.
FREDDIE ROACH: I definitely thought Miguel had a better fight with Floyd and everyone in the world knows that. It just wasn’t Canelo’s night. I don’t know what it was – making the weight or being in there with a very experienced guy with him being a young guy coming up. Miguel has a lot more experience and experience is something you have to earn. I’m sure Canelo did the best he could but it wasn’t nearly good enough.
Do you feel like you can take Miguel to the highest level?
FREDDIE ROACH: I feel like I can, yes. We work hard for each other and we are a good team and I think this is just the beginning.
You have faded towards the end of your last two losses – are you trying to fix that?
MIGUEL COTTO: Just train the best way and follow every instruction that Freddie gives to me. And I follow the strength coach, Kevin, and do what he tells me to do. Sometimes you need changes and I feel completely comfortable with Freddie in my corner and everybody is going to see it on October 5.
How long will your career go?
MIGUEL COTTO: I don’t know. A couple more fights then it will be over.
Do you retain any hard feelings regarding the Margarito situation?
MIGUEL COTTO: I don’t have any hard feelings for anyone. I am just trying to continue my career and the Margarito chapter in my life is over.
Freddie, what would you do if Pacquiao were to fight Cotto?
FREDDIE ROACH: I talked to Manny about it a little bit because Manny asked me if he could watch Miguel work out and I said ‘of course you can.’ So Manny came to watch. They shook hands and they are friends. Manny and Miguel will never fight each other. They have had their fight and it’s over. Miguel is a 154-pounder and Manny is 147. They are friends now and once Manny becomes friends with someone he will never fight them. They won’t fight and I guarantee you that.
I see Cotto’s weight is very low, how do you feel about that?
FREDDIE ROACH: Yes, I was a little concerned about the weight getting down too low. But we are controlling the weight and he is eating very healthy. It’s a very good diet he is on right now. His mom is cooking for him every night so it is a great situation. We are not trying to make weight here. What we are doing is training for the fight. The weight is coming off naturally so that is a good thing. He is right where I want him to be – a couple pounds off the weight class. Some nights I tell him to have a good steak and to eat a little bit more. It’s a good situation to be in – not struggling to make weight and he’s eating as much as he can.
Does your weight now make you think about going to 147?
MIGUEL COTTO: I am not interested at all in coming down to 147. I feel great at 154. I am doing what I need to do at 154. I had problems when I was at 147 and everyone knows how difficult it was for me and I don’t ever want that to happen again.
What’s the big difference you have seen since being with Freddie?
MIGUEL COTTO: I feel very comfortable with Freddie. Everyone does their job here, everyone is working hard and it makes me feel good. Everyone is doing the best he can every day. Freddie is doing his best and I am doing my best every day and that makes me a better fighter.
What is your plan? Would you like to retire as a champion?
MIGUEL COTTO: I am not thinking about a championship or defending titles or staying longer than I have to. I have an idea what I want to do but everything will be decided after this fight.
Do you feel stronger going into this fight compared to training on the east coast?
MIGUEL COTTO: At this moment, for this fight, I feel good. And I know next week I am going to feel better. And I am going to feel good in victory against Delvin Rodriguez. I am doing my best here in training camp and I am going to do my best when I get in the ring.
Where are you with Miguel Cotto Promotions?
MIGUEL COTTO: We are just a small company. The talent makes the company. We have to acquire talent then we can one day become a big company.
What does Freddie Roach bring to the table that other trainers did not?
MIGUEL COTTO: All I know is he comes prepared to work every day to get the best out of me every day in camp. I give him the best that I have and it’s been a great combination.
Do you feel pressure of putting Puerto Rico boxing back on the top?
MIGUEL COTTO: I train as hard as I can to do the best that I can when I get in the ring to win it and hopefully for Puerto Rico to enjoy it.
MIGUEL COTTO: I don’t look forward to fighting anyone at 147. I don’t think Manny is looking forward to fighting anyone at 154. I think we both have our own careers and that’s the way it will stay.
TODD duBOEF: This fight will be televised live on HBO [9:45 p.m. ET/PT] and Miguel Cotto has been one of the ratings leaders over his whole career. On the undercard from Miguel Cotto Promotions is up-and-coming featherweight, Jayson Vélez, and super welterweight contender Jorge Meléndez; and in the semi-final we have Terence Crawford in a really good lightweight fight, and young star from Puerto Rico Felix Verdejo.