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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pacquiao remains on track for title quest

LOS ANGELES — Manny Pacquiao denied that humanitarian work in typhoon-ravaged Philippines took away from his training sessions for an upcoming title fight with Miguel Cotto.

Pacquiao donated money and took time out from his sparring sessions to help the victims in the wake of typhoons that killed hundreds of people and rendered tens of thousands of families homeless in his native Philippines.

"It was mentally draining for him to see the devastation because thousands passed away and that is sad but once we stepped in the gym he was fine," trainer Freddie Roach said.

About 1,000 people died due to the two storms and more than 162,000 people had to be moved into makeshift evacuation centres because of back-to-back typhoons Ketsana and Parma.

Pacquiao (49-3-2, 27 KOs) said he would have liked to do more but had to get back to training or risk not being fully prepared to face World Boxing Organization champ Cotto in their November 14 fight in Las Vegas.

"I wanted to help them but I am in the middle of heavy training," said Pacquiao. "It is difficult but I have to focus on my fight and nobody can help me in the ring."

Pacquiao, of General Santos City, is chasing a piece of boxing history by trying to win seven titles in seven-different divisions. Cotto (34-1, 27 KOs) has been called a throwback fighter but Roach says Pacquiao is more old school.

"Manny is a throwback," said Roach, who is predicting Pacquiao will knock Cotto out. "He is like a Henry Armstrong type of guy.

"He is carrying his punch and his power up with him. This would be one of the greatest achievements ever and he would surpass great ones like Sugar Ray Leonard."

Pacquiao, who attempted to run for a seat at the House of Representatives in 2007, arrived in Los Angeles on the weekend after training in both Baguio City and Manila for just over a month.

He has been working the last few days with Roach at the Wild Card gym in Los Angeles.

"I am excited," Pacquiao said Wednesday. "It is going to be great because our style is kind of similar."

"I am hungry to win this fight. I feel like I am in 100 percent condition. I can't wait until November 14."

Roach said they had to leave for the US sooner than expected because of the demands on Pacquiao's time in the Philippines.

"Baguio worked out well because we asked people to stay away," Roach said. "He didn't have politicians bothering him.

"He was on fire the whole month there and we had great camp. The weather messed with us but we ran in the rain and we ran inside sometimes.

"The last week in Manila was tougher because everyone was trying to pull him different ways. There were lots of politicians."

Pacquiao is hugely popular among people of all ages in his native country and among Filipino expats, working overseas as labourers or domestic helpers.

Roach took it one step further Wednesday saying that Pacquiao is more popular than American boxer Mike Tyson in his prime.

"Even Mike Tyson didn't have the drawing power that Manny has," Roach said of his former fighter Iron Mike. "People just swarm (Pacquiao) to get a touch or a look. His countrymen love him.

"He brightens up a room and has got a great smile. He's the type of fighter that is going to keep boxing alive."

Roach said their game plan against Cotto is to stay away from underdog's devastating left hook and take away his counterpunching ability.

"We watched all the tapes of him (Cotto)," Roach said. "Cotto has never fought a guy like Manny Pacquiao and I don't think he can handle it.

"He is going to try to be a counterpuncher and not come at us."

Roach said he thinks that if Pacquiao can wear Cotto down then the Puerto Rican star might give up.

"I feel Miguel Cotto isn't deep enough and he can be hit," Roach said. "He took a beating in his fight with Antonio Margarito. He tried to quit in the ninth round holding his eye and he sucked it up came on and won the fight. We are not going to give him confidence in this fight.

"We are making adjustments for Cotto's style and his big left hook."

While Cotto is fighting at his natural weight (145 pounds), heavy favourite Pacquiao is moving up in class to meet the challenge.

Asked if Pacquiao could go even heavier for his next fight, Roach said, "I don't think so. At 147 pounds we have to feed him five times a day to keep the weight on."

Roach said the knockout to Margarito might have have scarred the confidence of Cotto.

"After you get knocked out for the first time in your life you need time to build your confidence back," Roach said. "You are undefeated and then you get knocked out, it is going to affect you.

"We are just getting ready for Cotto and whatever he brings. If he wants to box us or fight us."

Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jR8kbk5nELSX0gNOlaHWZa3CIRmg

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