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ROACH TRAVELS TO LAREDO


PhilBoxing.com



Freddie Roach at Laredo International Airport during his Travel to South Texas.

Laredo, Texas (September 7, 2014) ? After the recently concluded Pacquiao-Algieri international media tour, world-famous boxing trainer Freddie Roach arrives at this city where one of his fighter Egor Mekhontsev (5-0, 5KOs) won via 3rd Rd TKO against Samuel Miller (29-9, 25KOs) of Columbia during Saturday night?s Top Rank event - Solo Boxeo Tecate on Unimas at the Laredo Energy Arena.

There were good exchanges, shoving and some clinches during the first round. At the break, Roach instructed, ?Don?t push him, you might get countered,? Mekhontsev scored a knockdown in the 2nd Rd and the fight was over at 2 mins. 11 sec. of the next round when the referee decided he had seen enough.


L-R: Cutman Oleg Kovalchuk, Boxer Egor Mekhontsev, Trainer Freddie Roach and Manager Vadim Kornilov pose after their win at Laredo Energy Arena on Sept. 6, 2014 during Top Rank?s Event - Solo Boxeo Tecate on UniMas

?This is my first time to be in Laredo,? said an ecstatic Freddie Roach.

I informed him he never mentioned coming to Laredo, Texas when I saw him in New York City last Thursday, Sept. 4 at a presscon in Times Square Liberty Theater. ?I thought you lived in McAllen, Texas,? he replied. Roach was warmly received in Laredo with most of the people in the crowded arena getting extremely excited just seeing him in person.


Freddie Roach at ringside posing for pictures with Laredo Boxing Fans during an event at the Laredo Energy Arena in Sept. 6, 2014

?Freddie Roach is the most popular person in Laredo right now,? stated a Laredo Morning Times sportswriter/Photographer Clara Sandoval. Before returning to the dressing room, Roach was mobbed by boxing fans for which the tired-looking but game celebrity trainer obliged with a soft-spoken voice and a smile. He interacted with the boxing fans. A local realtor Creston Jackson shook Roach?s hand and told him, ?Thank you for everything that you do to the sport (boxing). You?re the man!? Coach Freddie acknowledged him with a nod. ?I never get excited about an individual but Freddie Roach is different,? stated a staff member at the Laredo Energy Arena.

Upon my interview, Egor Mekhontsev replied thru his manager Vadim Kornilov when queried what?s next for him, ?A couple more fights and if I continue winning, obviously, my dream is to become world champion. I?m very thankful to Top Rank for giving me great opportunities.? When asked against any particular fighter, his corner man Oleg Kavalchuk replied, ?Somebody like Adonis Stevenson (24-1, 20Kos), the current WBC light heavyweight champion, but that is still so far away, hopefully, next year.?

Freddie Roach and Team Mekhontsev later went back to ringside to watch the remaining bouts. The Top Rank event was impressive and the Laredo boxing community enjoyed the matches. Brad Solomon (23-0, 9Kos) from Lafayette, LA scored a 6th Rd TKO win against overmatched Mexican Freddy Hernandez (30-8, 20KOs). Oklahoman Alex Saucedo (14-0, 10KOs) scored a KO win on the 3rd Rd against journeyman Gary Bergeron (12-11, 7KOs). Local Texan fighters Casey Ramos from Austin won a 6th round Unanimous Decision over McAllen based Angel Hernandez (8-3, 4 KOs). 1st Swing bout fighter Irving Tapia (3-0, 3KOs) won against Ivan Ceron (2-4, 1KO).


Alex Saucedo (14-0, 10KOs) waves to the crowd after his KO win as journeyman Gary Bergeron (12-11, 7KOs) is being assisted by ringside physician Dr. Manuel Gonzales and the referee.

In between the matches, boxing fans bothered Freddie Roach for selfies, sign memorabilia (i.e., gloves, souvenir programs) and more picture taking. At one point, Freddie had to be escorted to go to a different section of the Laredo Energy Arena to meet the boisterous fans. A crowd gathers around him wherever he went. Even Guillermo Heredia, the father of strength and conditioning trainer Angel ?Memo? Heredia, went to see Roach at ringside for a photo-op. He told this writer that he respects and like Filipinos especially Manny Pacquiao. He claimed that he had personally told Juan Manuel Marquez to give a re-match, as Manny was a true gentleman and a warrior who gave him a re-match. This writer told him that would be a bloody and dangerous war, and he agreed.

Before the main event, Team Mekhontsev and Freddie Roach retired to the historic La Posada Hotel near downtown Laredo. The headliner was an exciting match up where crowd-favorite Juan ?Baby Bull? Diaz won via unanimous decision against Venezuelan Carlos Cardenas (20-9-1, 13KOs) in a 10-rounds lightweight bout. This writer left the arena to retire for the evening immediately after the main event, missing one last 4 rounder swing bout between Juan Bryand and Gelacio Cruz.


Team Juan ?Baby Bull? Diaz raises their arms during their UD victory announcement vs. Carlos Cardenas of Venezuela at Top Rank?s Boxing event at the Laredo Energy Arena on Sept. 6, 2014

This morning, this writer caught up with Team Mekhontsev at the airport at 10 am. When asked if Freddie Roach was with them, Team manager Vadim Kornilov stated, ?He?s still at the hotel. He?s taking a later flight.? I turn my attention to 2012 Olympic Gold medalist Egor Mekhontsev to ask him how he felt about Pacquiao-Algieri fight. His manager answered for him, ?You know Algieri beat our fighter Ruslan Provodnikov, so we want Manny to avenge that. F#@k Algieri!?

This writer proceeded to the downtown hotel and saw Freddie Roach again quite relaxed and having breakfast. Roach asked me to join them. He told me that his impression of Laredo was good. The hotel was nice and the staff was very professional as none bothered him, adhering to the policy of leaving their guests for privacy reasons. However, a few guests and boxing people from the different Teams would approach Freddie Roach for picture taking.

At the Laredo International Airport, before taking his flight, Freddie Roach hanged out briefly at the caf?. Most were waiting for their flight including boxing officials from last night?s Top Rank event. A few chatted with Roach and one fan asked the ultimate question whether the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight would happen. Freddie replied, ?I hope so!? Passing through security, the border patrol agent who was a boxing fan was visibly happy and excited to see him. Later, he requested for a picture with him and said he?ll use if for personal reasons and never post it on Facebook. Roach laughed. He seemed to appreciate the people in Laredo, Texas as much as the boxing community loved the Top Rank boxing event. Freddie Roach left Laredo, Texas around 2 pm on his way to LAX airport. Prior to boarding, this writer shook his hand and told him, ?Safe travels. Take care and good luck to Team Pacquiao!?

His itinerary in the coming months is busy ? Las Vegas next week for his undefeated heavyweight fighter Lateef Kayode vs. Cuban Luis Ortiz, before to departing for the Philippines to set up Pacquiao?s training camp. He will also travel to Moscow, Russia in late September 2014 for cruiserweight titlist Denis Lebedev, who has a defense against Pawel Kolodziej, and then finally, Roach would go to Macao, China with Team Pacquiao. There?s no stopping Roach from his career as a world-class trainer and being a frequent flier.


The author poses with Roach.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Dr. Allan Recto.


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