Floyd Mayweather Jr. has questioned the credentials of iconic boxing trainer Freddie Roach after Miguel Cotto's loss to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on Saturday.
Canelo bludgeoned his way to a unanimous-points win over the Puerto Rican in Las Vegas, with Roach’s man unable to cope with the energy the vibrant youngster brought into the bout. Mayweather told Ben Thompson of FightHype.com he thinks the advice given to Cotto throughout the fight from his corner was poor (h/t Keith Idec of BoxingScene.com):
If your coach knows you’re losing in the fourth round, if that was the case, that’s when a trainer needs to step up and say, ‘You know what? Pick up the f-----g pace. You losing.’ Or, ‘F--k it! Go out like a soldier! Go for the knockout.’ If you get caught, that’s part of the game. But s--t, the name of the game is kill or be killed. You gotta sacrifice something to get something.
Cotto was a slight underdog heading into this one, but many thought he had a fine chance of taking victory after a recent renaissance under Roach. After losing successive bouts to Mayweather and Austin Trout, the 35-year-old turned to Roach to resurrect his career, enjoying three consecutive wins before taking on Canelo.
Despite the upturn in form, Mayweather also claimed the influence of Roach on Cotto has been greatly overstated:
I hear people talking about Freddie Roach is a legendary trainer, but I think Cotto was fighting the same way before he got with Freddie Roach. I think Pacquiao was fighting the same before he got with Freddie. Both guys were already world champions before they got to Freddie Roach.
But when Pacquiao lost to Marquez and he lost to me, they still keep talking about how legendary the coach is. When are y’all going to get on the coach’s ass and say, ‘You know what? This coach done a f----d up job.'
Mayweather seemed to later suggest Roach’s illness—the trainer has Parkinson’s disease—could also have a negative effect on pre-fight preparations.
“These guys got these trainers working their training camp, holding pads and working with them when they’re not 100 percent,” said the retired fighter. “If you cannot give me 100 percent, I’m not going to be able to go out there and perform the way I need to perform if I don’t have the tools that I need.”
While Mayweather may decry the qualities of Roach, there have been some clear statistical improvements, as noted here by ESPN Stats & Info prior to the fight with Canelo:
Money retired undefeated from boxing earlier this year after beating Andre Berto in a lopsided encounter.
Prior to that fight, Mayweather got the better of Roach’s crown jewel, Manny Pacquiao, in one of the biggest bouts of all time. That night, Mayweather dismantled his opponent, with neither the Filipino nor Roach able to concoct a plan to effectively penetrate Money’s remarkable defensive skill set.
Nevertheless, as noted by Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, the iconic trainer still commands a massive amount of respect and is an almost unanimously popular figure:
That’s a vital part of his coaching style, but results speak for themselves too. Indeed, Roach helped establish Pacquiao as the most exciting fighter on the planet at his peak, with devastating wins over Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya and Cotto. Elite fighters would not seek to work with him so consistently out of sympathy or faded reputation.
Mayweather always came across as a mentally strong, single-minded fighter, meaning the impact of a coach would only result in minor tweaks to his style. However, others need that something extra aside from working on fundamental fighting skills, and that’s what Roach, despite this loss, has long provided for his fighters.