- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. and challenger Ruslan Provodnikov have been respectful toward each other during the promotion for Saturday's fight.
They haven't had much to say to each other, although maybe part of that is because Provodnikov's primary language is Russian.
Their trainers? That's a different story.
It's pretty clear from what Joel Diaz, Bradley's trainer, has had to say that he doesn't much care for Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, Provodnikov's trainer. And after hearing what Diaz had to say about him, it turns out Roach isn't exactly a huge Diaz fan either.
Diaz got an official win against Roach in June when Bradley was handed a hugely controversial split decision against Manny Pacquiao, Roach's star pupil. When Diaz was asked recently what he thought Roach brought to the table for Provodnikov, he didn't hold back.
"Freddie Roach is not my concern. My concern is the fighter," Diaz said. "Freddie Roach was just a name that was created. I think Freddie Roach lost the love of the sport. He created a name and it's out there, but he doesn't have the passion for the sport that he had a few years ago. I've seen it in the last [Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao] fight. I've seen it in the fight before, the third fight with Marquez.
"Freddie Roach is the least of my concern for any fight. I just focus on the fighter. Freddie Roach is always trying to play mind games. Freddie says Tim is going to run. That is just Freddie playing mind games. They don't know how we are going to fight. He is trying to get under Tim's skin. At the end of the day, Tim is going to be a winner, and that's what matters."
Roach, who didn't have a bad word to say about Diaz during the lead-up to the Bradley-Pacquiao fight, didn't appreciate what Diaz had to say about him.
"I could tell him where to go, but he doesn't know me," said Roach, a five-time trainer of the year. "He doesn't know what I do every day. He doesn't see me in the gym working with these fighters. I know he's just saying it to get under my skin. I have a game plan and the right fighters to carry that game plan through, and on [Saturday] we'll see who's the better coach or who's the better man.
"I met the person [Diaz] maybe twice in my life. I see him around the boxing game. I know that he had a good record. He seems like he did a great job with his fighter. My fighter and I get along well. It's not about the trainers. My fighter is the one who's going to win the fight, not me. Whatever he says, I don't care. I don't have time to be mad at someone. I don't read anything he says. I just don't have time for that. I'm sure he is a nice person outside of the ring. This fight is very important for Ruslan and me and the entire camp, and we want to win the fight."