Roach Tells TSS He’s Made It Clear Canelo Is Best Fight NOW For Cotto

Freddie Roach on Wednesday afternoon watched over one of his students, South African welterweight Chris Van Heerden (21-1-1 with 11 KOs), who fights Friday night at the Madison Square Garden Theater, on the first show put together by the Roc Nation boxing people.

It was bitter outside with people rushing to and fore with the spring in the step wanting to be in a warmer place will bring. But the activity in the Trinity Boxing Club in downtown Manhattan had the temp comfortable, as Van Heerden, who meets 20-0 Cecil McCalla, a Marylander stepping way up in NYC, got a sweat up. He did some pads with Roach, who I then cornered with my tape recorder.

I got the lowdown on Van Heerden, who held the IBO 147 crown, and is keen to get the W Friday, and then target Keith Thurman…and then grilled Roach on his second most high-profile client, Miguel Cotto.

Negotiations between the Puerto Rican who today holds the WBC’s middleweight strap, which he took off mugging victim Sergio Martinez last June, have been ongoing, and people are wondering if they are bogged down. What about it, Freddie, whaddya say, whaddya know? Are we going to see a primo Puerto Rican vs. Mexican clash on May 2nd? Or should we minimize expectations, and perhaps ready ourselves for Canelo fighting someone else, not Cotto, on HBO, as his promoter Oscar De La Hoya mentioned was a possibility during a hit on the new Sirius radio show topped by Teddy Atlas and Tim Smith, on Tuesday night?

Some whispers have Cotto trying to cut too hard of a deal, living up to his rep, and then some, as a shrewd, take-no-prisoners dealmaker…

“I think Gaby (Penagaricano, a Cotto advisor) is the negotiator,” said Roach, who told me he enjoyed a five-day vacation with his galpal in Puerto Rico, but then came home to have his Wild Card gym open on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. “I did talk to Gaby, and I did stress to him that this is the best fight for us at this time. I said, even if Mayweather came along, this fight is better for us at this time. Because Mayweather will always be there.”

Point taken and accepted, but and especially if Cotto does to Canelo was Roach expects him to do; impose his superior ring generalship on the younger but arguably more one-dimensional man. “I’m very confident in that fight,” Roach said, as Van Heerden warmed down. “Canelo, he’s a solid fighter. He’s a good puncher, but he’s still young, makes a lot of mistakes. Things I think we’d take advantage of.”

We hoped Monday, then Tuesday, that the deal would be done for Canelo-Cotto, with Team Cotto and Team Canelo wrapping up terms. Now it’s Wednesday…should we be worried?

“I’m on the outside a little bit,” the trainer said. “I don’t negotiate for Miguel, I’m just his trainer. Gaby knows who I want next, and I think it’s the best fight for us.”

Roach says Team Cotto knows they hold the title and want to be treated properly as “the A side,” but he allowed that Canelo sells PPVs at a nice clip, so he wants some A side lovin, too. “So there’s a little give and take…that’s what we need to do a little bit. I do hope to see Gaby before I go (back to California), he told me he’s going to come see me, so I’ll get an update.”

OK, so bottom line, are you optimistic Cotto and Canelo will clash May 2?

“I honestly think if they take May 2nd, our good friend Floyd Mayweather likes to take things away from people,” Dedham Freddie said, “and show how powerful he is….”

Check back for Freddie’s current theory on what “Money” might be up to, and how that may or may not affect his most high-profile client, Congressman Pacquiao…

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