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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cotto to test Pacquiao in November

It’s on. After five weeks of negotiations, Manny Pacquiao – the world’s top-ranked pound-for-pound boxer – has agreed to fight WBO welterweight champion Miguel Cotto at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Nov 14.

“I’m really excited because it’s a real fight. These are two real warriors,” said Bob Arum, who represents both boxers.

Although contracts remain unsigned, the Top Rank chairman revealed a verbal agreement for the non-title bout had been reached. “I went directly to Manny and made the offer, he said it was a fair offer and accepted it.”

Even with no belts on the line, a Pacquiao v Cotto match-up will be hotly contested. Pacquiao – whose career record stands at 49 wins, three losses and two draws, with 37 KOs – is arguably the biggest draw in global boxing.

Cotto though, boasting an enviable history of 34 wins and just one defeat, with 27 KOs, is bigger, stronger and a genuine threat.

Pacquiao will be confident, however, having destroyed all his would-be challengers in the last 19 months. Four devastating wins in four different weight categories have downed Juan Manuel Marquez at super-featherweight, David Diaz at lightweight, Oscar de la Hoya at welterweight and Ricky Hatton at light-welterweight – ‘Pac-Man’s’ preferred weight.

With few financially viable opponents left to face, the heavier Puerto Rican was always the Filipino’s most realistic option.

However, Pacquiao’s eighth round TKO stoppage of de la Hoya showed he is not adverse to fighting at welterweight, Cotto’s optimum weight.

A concern in ‘Pac-Man’s’ corner will be that de la Hoya, 35, was past his best at the time. At 28, Cotto is undoubtedly in his prime.

‘Junito’ survived a first round knock-down against Ghanaian powerhouse Joshua Clottey recently, to go the distance and claim a split decision win at Madison Square Garden.

In winning the old-fashioned blood-fight, Cotto – watched by a ringside Pacquiao – enhanced his “warrior” reputation and established himself as the Asian fighter’s main contender.

Arum, who has yet to divulge details on the fight’s purse – believes the contest is too close to call. “Usually, I can figure out who is going to win a fight, but Manny and Cotto is another story,” he said. “This is a tough fight for Manny. Cotto is the stronger fighter, and Manny is the quicker fighter. To me, it’s a toss-up.

“They’re great fighters and there where will be a lot of engagement. If you want blood, action and excitement, this is the fight – it’s going to be a classic.”

Source: http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090721/SPORT/707219958/1043

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