Roach wanted Cotto to fight GGG, not Sadam Ali
By Sean Jones: Trainer Freddie Roach says he preferred that superstar Miguel Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) fight middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin for Saturday’s bout on HBO at Madison Square Garden in New York.
(Photos Courtesy HBO/Ed Mulholland)
Roach felt that the proper way for the 37-year-old Cotto to end his career would be to go out with a bang by fighting Triple G for the boxing fans, but unfortunately he wasn’t available to take the fight. Golovkin is currently tied down with a rematch contract to fight Saul Canelo Alvarez in 2018, and he get free from that fight.
Roach would have also liked to fight Canelo, but he’s in the same situation in being tied to the GGG fight. Canelo is on vacation for the remainder of 2017, and he doesn’t want to get back into the ring the rest of the year due to his tough fight with Golovkin that took place last September in Las Vegas. That was a hard fight for Canelo, who ate a lot of punches from the aggressive Golovkin, and he arguably lost that fight. The judges scored it a draw, but the court of public opinion had Golovkin winning a clear decision.
Roach sees Sadam Ali as not the guy that he wanted Cotto to fight, but he was the only one available that was willing to take the fight from the pool that was asked. Undefeated WBC junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo said he would have taken the fight with Cotto, but it looks like he wasn’t asked for some reason. You can’t say that Charlo doesn’t have an exciting style of fighting. After the way he blew out Erickson Lubin in 1 round, Charlo is more than exciting enough for someone like Cotto. There’s no word whether Erislandy Lara or Jarrett Hurd were asked. You can imagine they would have jumped at the chance to fight Cotto.
“Yeah, it’s a little bit of a letdown, because I kind of wanted Triple G to be the last fight, but they wouldn’t give us that fight at this point right now. They have obligations elsewhere,” said Roach to Fighthub in talking about him wanting Golovkin for Cotto.
It would be interesting to know if Golovkin would have been seriously given a shot at Cotto if he were free. For a lot of boxing fans, they’re skeptical about whether Golovkin would have been given the December 2 fight with Cotto. In looking at the fighters that Cotto has chosen to face in the last several years of his career, it’s impossible to see him picking out Golovkin no matter what his availability. For example, when Cotto had an option of picking a middleweight champion to fight for a world title in 2014, he chose 40-year-old Sergio Martinez, a fighter that was coming off of 2 knee surgeries and 14-month layoff to fight for his WBC middleweight title.
Cotto could have fought Golovkin, who held the WBA middleweight title and was recognized as the best fighter in the 160 lb. division by many in the boxing world. Instead, Cotto fought Sergio Martinez, who clearly was an over-the-hill fighter and an easy mark. Roach said it himself at the time that Martinez was the one that he wanted for Cotto, because he was vulnerable and beatable. Roach didn’t insist on Cotto fighting Golovkin. He didn’t want that fight. Cotto had a chance to fight Golovkin after he beat Sergio Martinez to win the WBC 160 lb. belt. Cotto chose not to. Cotto opted to fight Daniel Geale and Canelo. Cotto lost his WBC belt to Canelo in their fight on November 21, 2015. After that fight, Cotto had 2 years to go after a match with Golovkin if he wanted to. He didn’t do that. During that 2 years, Cotto showed interest in fighting 44-year-old Juan Manuel Marquez, a fighter that had spent most of his career at featherweight. When Cotto did return to the ring 2 years later in 2017, he fought Yoshihiro Kamegai for the vacant WBO 154lb title. Cotto could have tried to make a fight with Golovkin, but he didn’t. Cotto chose to fight Kamegai, a guy that was little more than a fringe contender in the World Boxing Organization’s rankings. Fighting Kamegai for the WBO title on HBO was in the words of some fans, ‘A gimme.’ In other words, it was a mismatch for Cotto.
“I wish these fights were available, because I think Canelo owes us a rematch,” said Roach. ”I thought we won the first time. They said his defense was impeccable that night,” said Roach about Cotto. “His defense was great. He outscored him, and I couldn’t see him losing that fight. The thing is, did we sit down on our power punches in that fight? No, but when was that the game plan? The game plan was to out-box him, and I thought we did in my opinion. I thought we won the fight. I still think he owes us one. Maybe we’ll go an extra one; just kidding. This is it,” said Roach.
Cotto has already made it clear to the boxing fans by saying in repeated interviews that his fight with Sadam Ali will be his last of his career. He doesn’t intend on coming out of retirement to fight anyone. Once Cotto is retired, he plans on staying retired. It’s obviously a poor way for Cotto to retire, because it means his last 2 fights of his career were ‘gimme’ type fights that HBO chose to televise rather than reject. For those who have a problem with Cotto being allowed to fight 2 easy marks in his last 2 fights of his career, you can look at Floyd Mayweather Jr., who did the exact same thing by ending his career by fighting Andre Berto and Conor McGregor in his last 2 fights. Those were not quite as bad as Cotto’s fights against Kamegai and Sadam Ali, but they were close. Berto at least was a former world champion with power and boxing skills. Kamegai is little more than a high-level journeyman in this writer’s opinion, and Sadam Ali is not one of the best at 147, as we saw in his knockout loss to Jessie Vargas in 2016. Sure, Ali is now currently ranked in the WBO’s top 15 at the No.9 spot at 154, but he’s not shown anything to deserve that ranking. His fight with Cotto tonight will be his first ever at junior middleweight. The WBO has Ali ranked above the hard hitting Julian ‘J-Rock’ Williams. A lot of boxing fans would take issue with that ranking. Ali vs. J-Rock would likely be a massacre loss for Sadam. He couldn’t handle the power of Jessie Vargas, who isn’t a puncher. J-Rock hits hard, and it’s safe to say that Sadam Ali would be in deep trouble in that fight. Ali’s amateur style of fighting wouldn’t work well for him against a slugger like Julian Williams. The WBO having Sadam Ali ranked above Williams is odd, and makes no sense at all.
“He has that amateur style,” said Roach about Sadam Ali. “He does leave his body open. He is a little bit dangerous. The thing is, we wanted to fight the best guy we could. I wish Tripe G or one of those guys would have come to the table, but unfortunately that wasn’t available at this time. We’re going against a guy that is from New York. We’re fighting in his hometown, even though we’re going to have more fans than him. Miguel will have a really good fight, I feel. Every time he trains like this, he fights well,” said Roach.
When Golovkin was available, Cotto wasn’t looking to fight him, so it doesn’t matter what Roach says to the media about GGG not being available. If Cotto wasn’t showing interest in fighting Golovkin in the last 5 years, he surely wouldn’t have changed his tune all of a sudden for his final fight of his career tonight. Tonight’s Cotto-Ali fight is a celebration of Cotto by him going out with an easy fight on HBO. That’s really what it is for all intents and purposes.
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