Lem’s latest on Freddie Roach: ‘My plate is full’


LAS VEGAS — The year 2013 was yet another very busy one for trainer Freddie Roach.

Last March, Roach was in the corner of Ruslan Provodnikov, who scored a 12th-round knockdown during a unanimous decision loss to WBO 147-pound titleholder Tim Bradley.

On Oct. 5, Roach guided three-division titlewinner Miguel Cotto to a comeback third-round stoppage of Delvin Rodriguez just two weeks before Provovodnikov's 10th-round knockout dethroned Mike Alvarado as WBO 140-pound beltholder with Roach protege Marvin Somodio working Provodnikov's corner.

Roach had deferred to Somodio as he traveled to General Santos City, Philippines, where he trained Manny Pacquiao for November's unanimous decision over Brandon Rios.

On Saturday, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Roach will be with Pacquiao for his return bout with Bradley, who dethroned him by split-decision for his current belt in June 2012.

Roach also has Cotto for a June 7 bout against RING and WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez on HBO Pay Per View at New York's Madison Square Garden.

After that, Provodnikov will be in action, yet again, on June 14 in a likely defense against Chris Algieri.

"I can't take on anymore fighters. After this fight, we've got Cotto. From Cotto, then we go to Ruslan. Then we've got [Antonio] DeMarco after that, possibly, in a fight against Rios, is what they're talking about," said Roach, referring to a targeted bout between Rios and DeMarco. "They're trying to get that fight for DeMarco and I think that's a good fight for him. But they're all very close. So my plate is full."

Already a five-time winner of the "Trainer of the Year Award," Roach will be honored for a sixth time as the winner of the "Eddie Futch Award for Trainer of the Year" by the Boxing Writers Association of America on May 3  at The MGM Grand.



Former title challenger Arash Usmanee will replace former two-time junior lightweight titleholder Roman "Rocky" Martinez, who pulled out of Saturday's scheduled lightweight bout with Raymundo Beltran, Top Rank announced on Tuesday.

In his past two fights, the 32-year-old Usmanee (20-1-1, 10 knockouts) has lost by unanimous decision to unbeaten Rances Barthelemy and battled to a draw with then-IBF titleholder Argenis Mendez in January 2013 and last August, respectively.

The 32-year-old Beltran (28-6-1, 17 KOs) was last in the ring for September's draw with then-WBO beltholder Ricky Burns, whom he floored in the eighth round after having broken his jaw in the second.

"Neither of these guys take many backwards steps in the ring. It's going to be a war of attrition from the first round," said Greg Cohen, Usmanee's promoter.

"You could easily say this is a battle between the uncrowned IBF champion and the uncrowned WBO champion. It's a very high-level match-up between two of the toughest guys in the sport. It's going to be a sensational slugfest."



Former junior middleweight titleholder Yuri Foreman could face hard-hitting Jorge Melendez on the undercard of the Martinez-Cotto fight, according to Top Rank CEO Bob Arum.

A 33-year-old resident of Brooklyn, Foreman (32-2, 9 KOs) has won four consecutive fights since falling by consecutive stoppage losses in the ninth and sixth rounds to Miguel Cotto and Pawel Wolak in June of 2010 and March of 2011, respectively.

The loss to Cotto dethroned Foreman, who returns to being promoted by Top Rank, as WBA titleholder, this, long after Foreman had dethroned Puerto Rico’s Daniel Santos in November 2009 for the belt.

In doing so, Foreman became the first Israeli to win a world boxing title, whose first name, in English translation is "George," not to mention the first soon-to-be Rabbi to do so.

In January 2013, Foreman ended a nearly two-year absence with a unanimous decision victory over Brandon Baue. Foreman was last in the ring for November's first-round knockout of Jovany Javier Gomez.

The 25-year-old Melendez (28-3-, 26 KOs) would be after his third straight victory since being stopped in the sixth round by Nick Brinson last June, and is coming off last month's unanimous decision over Richard Gutierrez.



Southpaw junior lightweight title challenger Diego Magdaleno (25-1, 10 KOs) will return to action on the undercard of the May 17 welterweight fight between Juan Manuel Marquez and Mike Alvarado, according to Top Rank Vice President Carl Moretti.

Magdaleno was last in the ring for a fourth-round of Jorge Pazos in February that followed a unanimous decision over Edgar RioValle in September. Prior to facing RioValle, Magdaleno was dropped in the fourth round of a split-decision loss to then-WBO beltholder Martinez last April.