After a great first day and night, we woke up early again on the Tuesday and set off back to the bus stop to catch the 704 – full of the Hollywood ‘crazies’ – and embarked on the journey to The Wildcard again for day 2!
I had another really good session in the gym, getting in plenty of high quality rounds of drilling, pad work, conditioning, etc. and then afterwards I would just watch others training; see what I could learn from them and see how other people went about their ‘work’ – whilst I was observing I ended up speaking to a few guys regarding training, where I’m from, if I compete, etc. etc. the usual questions boxers ask one another and ended up having a little conversation with a very talented fighter who I had seen in the gym when I was last here in 2014.
His name is Azat Hovhannisyan and he is an Armenian Super Bantamweight with a record of 12-2 as a professional. I always appreciated his skill set and how I would see him in the gym every day, working hard; so I ended up sitting next to him, opposite the main ring as he was putting on his hand wraps.
We had a short conversation and I thought I’d ask if he’d done any sparring and training with Scott Quigg, who has recently moved to train with Freddie Roach; it was pretty cool as Azat told me he had been sparring with him for a month leading up to Quigg’s first fight with Roach in his corner and he said how good and talented he was.
After a solid session and a long time learning from and observing other fighters, including Shane Mosley Jnr with his trainer Eric Brown, we headed off for a bit of lunch at a nice little cafe across the road called ‘Farmboy Kitchen’ which a few of the guys had discovered earlier that day.
We ended up sitting in there for a long time and I did start to think to myself, I wonder why we’re staying here so long today? Maybe Andre & Steve have another gym session planned for us…
I wasn’t sure, but was up for that anyway as I’d never turn down an extra chance to train at The Wildcard!
Anyway, after a while we headed back over towards the Wildcard to pick up our t-shirts (that was the excuse the guys had used to justify why we’d been hanging around for a while) but then Marie (who helps to manage and run the gym) told us that we were allowed to have an all access pass to the downstairs/private gym as we’d come all the way over from England to train here.
If you don’t know, the downstairs part of The Wildcard is a private gym where a lot of the Pro’s train and where Freddie Roach works with his fighters, including: Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto (to name a few) so for a big group of us to have the freedom to walk around and experience this was incredible, we got in the ring with the Miguel Cotto canvas and walked around looking at the heavy bags and speed balls that these legends have trained with/on and I also saw Freddie Roach’s honorary WBC World Championship belt hanging up on the wall in its frame.
We’d been in there for a few minutes and then for some reason a semi-circle had almost formed around me, with Freddie Roach to my left stood next to the ring with a mischievous grin on his face, and then much to my surprise the door in the corner opens and who walks out?
Only the 4 Weight World Champion – Miguel Cotto!!!
One of my top 5 favourite fighters ever!
He came straight over to me with a big grin on his face, shook my hand and gave me a big hug – all I can really clearly remember is me saying “Bloody hell!” – we spoke briefly and it was all a bit of a blur if I’m totally honest, but I’d just met another one of my heroes. It was ridiculous. To say I was overwhelmed would be a bit of an understatement!
For those who don’t know about Miguel Cotto he’s a Puerto Rican superstar now, but he’s had an amazing career; he has fought so many other legends including:
- Shane Mosley
- Manny Pacquiao
- Floyd Mayweather Jr
- Saul Alvarez
- Sergio Martinez
- Zab Judah
He was and always has been a massive inspiration for me since I first started boxing because he lost his father in 2010, just less than a year after I’d lost mine; so that’s one thing that always resonated with me alongside his style, skills and the way he conducts himself.
Miguel Cotto was another really nice and friendly Champion, he had no arrogance about him what-so-ever (which is a big reason why I role model him), he was so genuinely pleased to be doing something like this for one of his fans and he was really nice to everyone from the gym, shaking their hands and taking time out of a busy schedule to have pictures with everyone.
He was really classy and I cannot thank him, Freddie, Marie and Andre enough for setting that all up for me and managing to keep it a secret. It all made sense now why we’d been waiting around for such a long time and why the phone rang and they shouted out for ‘the English coach’ – I was totally in awe of how much so many people had done for me today and it really did blow me away.
I’ll leave it there for this post, and attach some extra photos below – however, this is Part 4 of my mini-series, so do check back in a couple of days for Part 5!
|Love these guys!|