As Jorge Linares prepares to defend his WBA lightweight title tomorrow, former trainer Freddie Roach talks to Fight Hub about Linares now that he’ll be training the fighter in the opposite corner, Mercito Gesta.
Roach on what makes Linares fold during grueling fights:
“Well, he’s a very good fighter but I think if you fight him with the correct style you can put pressure on him and you can make him quit. And I’ve seen that in the corner before. When he bleeds, he doesn’t like blood and so forth, but the thing is I can’t have my fighter go in there with elbows and headbutts [laughs].
“But the thing is [Gesta] will go in there a little more aggressive than you’ve seen him in the past and we’re gonna take the fight to him, and I think that’s the best way to beat him.”
On if it’s tall order for Gesta to be able to best Linares considering that Linares is being set up for a big fight afterwards:
“Yeah, the thing is, I know my guy is not the guy that’s supposed to win this fight but I told Peter Nelson from HBO ‘Don’t worry, you picked a good fight because we will win this fight and I will make the crowd wrong’ because the thing is, we’re the younger, better fighter. I tell him everyday ‘you’re a great fighter, you have better footwork than he does, you box better than he does.’ I mean, I know he’s a great fighter in the past and so forth, but he’s not the same guy that we remember from a long time ago.
“[Linares is] all over the place traveling all the time, and now he has a Cuban trainer. Cuban trainers are great in amateur boxing, but pro boxing? I don’t see it. I mean when I took over for Miguel Cotto, who’d he fire? Him!”
On Linares and his trainer mentioning that all he did was lose while training with Roach:
“Ask him why he lost! Did he have his girlfriend in the dressing room the whole time and I threw her out and he got mad at me? And is that why he lost, because he wasn’t focused on the fight? Who the fuck brings a girlfriend into a dressing room and has her sit there like — I said ‘Why you here? Get out.’ And he’s like ‘No, no, she’s okay.’
“No, she’s not okay. I mean this is the fight game, this is like competition. You have to be focused and ready for this and he’s like babysitting the girl — he doesn’t remember that part of why he lost? I didn’t make him quit that night! He quit because he was bleeding! And he doesn’t like blood [shrugs].”
On if that incident was the reason he and Linares split up:
“It was that incident, basically, and his lack of work ethic. I mean, he’s a lazy fighter.
“I mean, the first time he fought Pacquiao he was great. The second time he came a couple years later, Pacquiao knocked him out. I mean, he’s just, I don’t think he’s that great anymore. I think he was great at one time, early in his career, but that’s as far as I’ll go.”
On if he thinks Linares is overlooking Gesta by talking about future fights with Vasyl Lomachenko and Mikey Garcia:
“By far, yes. I mean, I really don’t think those guys turn those fights down. I mean, who turns down a world title fight in today’s market — it’s very hard to get one...”