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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cotto stands in way of Pac-Man's title run

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Special to The Press-Enterprise

Every day Manny Pacquiao arrives with his entourage at the now famous Wild Card Boxing gym in Hollywood. And it's not uncommon to see a member of the television series "Entourage" present at one of Filipino fighter's training sessions.

Pacquiao has become a part of Hollywood and thus a part of the media world.

The world will soon see if Pacquiao can win a world title in a record seventh weight division when he faces WBO welterweight titleholder Miguel Cotto (34-1, 27 KOs) on Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Seven weight divisions, think about that. From 112 pounds to 140 pounds Pacquiao has beaten the best fighters in the world, including Oscar De La Hoya, who won world titles in six divisions.

"Oscar De La Hoya was my toughest," said Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs), who beat a weakened, but dangerous, fighter.

"Now he's after the world title in the 147-pound welterweight division.

That's Pacquiao for you. Though it was a relatively easy fight last December against De La Hoya, the Filipino refuses to intentionally belittle future or former opponents. He knows the power of words, too.

Cotto, who has beaten Shane Mosley, Joshua Clottey and Zab Judah, can't be lured into a battle of words either. More often than not, the humble Puerto Rican walks a straight line down the middle when he answers a reporter's questions.

When Cotto was asked how he would cope with Pacquiao's speed, he paused for a few seconds before answering.

"We don't know. We're going to have to fight him and we'll see," Cotto said.

Just don't expect Cotto to be in awe of Pacquiao's goal of seven world titles in seven weight divisions.

"If he thinks he is going to win seven titles in seven weight classes now, he has picked the wrong moment, the wrong fighter and the wrong opponent," Cotto said.

Despite some huge victories in the past three years, Cotto's loss to Mexico's Antonio Margarito has left him on the outside looking in when it comes to the greatest fighters in the world today.

Without question a win over Pacquiao, who is considered the best fighter pound for pound today, could remedy Cotto's status.

"A win over Manny Pacquiao and all that bad stuff is erased," said Freddie Roach, who trains Pacquiao. "Cotto breaks people down. I've watched tapes. We have to throw a little bit of a curveball at him. He's a really strong fighter. He knows distance very well. We have a speed advantage, so we have to use it in a wise way."

Cotto's major weapon is his left hand. With it he can fire a jolting jab powerful enough to send Clottey to the canvas, or a hook strong enough to floor Carlos Quintana. The Puerto Rican is a converted left-hander and sometimes switches against southpaws as he did against Quintana and Judah.

Basically, Cotto is an extremely intelligent fighter.

"Heart, mind and skill, you put them altogether and that's what it's going to take to win this fight," said Cotto while in Los Angeles last week. "I can stop the fight at any time."

Pacquiao is probably the best-known southpaw today. With his combination of lightning fast hands and nimble feet, he darts in and out of danger lickety-split. And if you doubt his power, he can end it with a single punch as he did against Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton last May. The Englishman was dropped with a right hook and later with an overhand left.

"It was one of my best punches," acknowledged Pacquiao softly. "I felt it to my shoulder."

Though Pacquiao has gradually become one of the most famous fighters in the world, attracting Hollywood headliners to the boxing gym on a daily basis, he's grounded enough to know each fight is dangerous and could end his career.

"It's bad to say I will knock him out or for someone to say he will knock that person out. Only God knows," said the deeply religious Pacquiao. "My job is to fight the best fighters in the world."

Source: http://www.pe.com/sports/breakout/stories/PE_Sports_Local_S_box_column_10.448c80d.html

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