Miguel Cotto has reinvented himself before. After being stopped by southpaw Manny Pacquiao in 2009, Cotto brought the late Emanuel Steward in as his trainer, and they moved up in weight to win a light middleweight world title.
Coming off an unexpected loss to southpaw Austin Trout in 2012, Cotto turned to Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer, to get him back on track. Now, Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs) is moving up to middleweight to challenge WBC champion Sergio Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs), a southpaw, Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, and Cotto is confident the new combination in his corner will resurrect his career again.
"A lot of people said Michael Jordan would not have been Michael Jordan without Scottie Pippen," Cotto said Wednesday before the final news conference. "I think I found my Pippen in Freddie Roach."
There are a lot of reasons Roach should be good for Cotto, not the least of which is that Roach can teach him how to fight lefthanders. "I love to fight southpaws," Roach said. "We've been working on it for eight weeks, and he's got it down to a science."
Martinez will be the judge of that. The 39-year-old Argentine was a late bloomer, but he's on a seven-match winning streak in the past four years in title bouts, is the naturally bigger man and possesses speed that translates into power.
But Martinez has been off a year recovering from his second right knee surgery and has been knocked down in his past three fights, suggesting he's not as elusive as in the past. "Sergio is reckless," Roach said. "He runs wherever he wants."
Cotto said he isn't worried Martinez will come in heavier than the 159-pound catchweight on fight night more than 24 hours after tomorrow's weigh-in. If all goes according to plan, Cotto expects to slow Martinez with a withering body attack and a firm belief that he will have the power to finish the job.
"I'm a puncher," Cotto said, "and my power goes up with me wherever I go."
Roach says Martinez hasn't been the same since his lopsided unanimous decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. 21 months ago. He won nearly every minute of that fight until Chavez knocked him down and nearly out in the final round.
"He left a lot in the ring with Chavez," Roach said. "He tried so hard to knock him out for 11 rounds and couldn't do it and then almost got knocked out in the 12th. I think that fight ruined Martinez."
Oh, Roach was working Chavez's corner that night. So, a trainer who has beaten Cotto and lost to Martinez now believes he can take Cotto and beat Martinez. We'll see if it's a winning combination.