ORLANDO, Fla. -- No one can question the knowledge of legendary trainer Freddie Roach, and since he took over as Miguel Cotto's trainer, replacing Pedro Diaz in July, he is convinced the former three-division titlist still has enough punching power and discipline to win another title, even if he must do it against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
"Really, I've never worked with such a disciplined boxer," said Roach, during Cotto's training session for Saturday's junior middleweight fight against Delvin Rodriguez at the Amway Center (HBO, 9:45 p.m. ET). "By looking at his commitment, you can be sure that Miguel will win on Saturday, and after that, he might fight against Canelo [Alvarez] or [Sergio] Martinez, and later, he could consider fighting against Floyd Mayweather Jr. again."
So far, Cotto and his team have been relatively quiet about their future, in part due to his contentious relationship with promoter Top Rank Boxing, but the fact that Roach is openly happy and extremely optimist might be hints that Cotto could stay inside the ring beyond 2014.
Currently, Cotto and Top Rank have a "one fight at a time" deal, and nothing is carved in stone beyond Saturday's fight in Orlando. Top Rank's president, Todd duBoef, said in a recent interview with ESPN.com's Dan Rafael, "I believe in our long-term relationship, that's what it's all about."
For this fight, Cotto returned to work with Top Rank after his previous two fights, both losses, were promoted by Golden Boy Promotions. An outstanding performance in Orlando, in front of a strong Puerto Rican fan base, could lead Cotto to a blockbuster fight. But according to Roach, Cotto, 32 and currently in his 13th year as a pro fighter, must silence his critics first.
Among the rumors, none of them with solid foundation, are possible fights against Alvarez and Martinez. Roach thinks neither boxer could be a potential risk for Cotto right now.
"It's real simple: Miguel has been working really hard, taking care of all the details I pointed out as potential weaknesses," said Roach, who set up Cotto's camp in his Hollywood, Calif., gym for this fight. "I'm really pleased with Miguel's dedication. Honestly, there will be absolutely no problem for him on Saturday."
Roach also said the trainer-boxer relationship grows stronger as time goes by.
"The two of us have deep boxing knowledge, and I feel that we have a solid mutual trust level," said Roach. "He is a disciplined fighter; that's all I'm asking for."
The veteran trainer said the very first thing he did with Cotto was reshape his defense, because he was too passive inside the ring.
"You've got to create opportunities while being defensive, and since he was really passive, we had to work on that subject," said Roach.
So far, Roach is happy with what he has seen. Still, he thinks there's room for improvement.
"There's always room for improvement, and Miguel is still a young puncher," said Roach. "Yes, we can improve -- a lot."