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Friday, November 13, 2009

‘Firepower’ clash of game plans

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By Francis Thimsel J. Ochoa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:42:00 11/14/2009

LAS VEGAS— Bettors are busy trying to figure out exactly what round Manny Pacquiao will finish off Miguel Cotto on Saturday (Sunday morning in the Philippines) at the MGM Grand, where the global ring superstar tries to become the first Filipino to win world titles in seven different weight divisions.

Over at Cotto’s camp, members say it is their man who will land the killer punch and end the night early.

The thing that everybody seems to overlook? The fact that “Firepower” may end up as a battle of game plans rather than a battle of punching power.

Much-maligned Cotto trainer Joe Santiago said Thursday they will try to control the pace of the fight in an effort to neutralize Pacquiao’s advantage in speed, a strategy that runs directly against Freddie Roach’s plan to press the attack early.

“You have to decide what’s going to take place in the ring from the beginning,” Santiago told reporters. “We’re going to dictate the pace.”

Roach, on the other hand, had earlier said that Pacquiao will go after Cotto early. The Puerto Rican, who will stake his WBO welterweight crown on Saturday, has been known to both start slow and end slower.

“We’re going to show him our power in the first round,” Roach revealed. “We’re not going to give (Cotto) momentum, because if you give him that, he’ll get stronger.”

And then there’s the defensive game plan.

“Miguel has a great left hook,” said Roach. “Once he gets you on the ropes, he’s very effective. Our job is to stay away from the ropes and keep the fight in the middle of the ring.”

That, Santiago believes, is easier said than done.

“That’s what everyone says about Miguel,” Santiago told Reuters. “They all say: ‘We have to stay away from that hook and prevent it from landing.’ And he [Cotto] ends up landing it every time. It’ll land.”

Santiago also said they will try to capitalize on a Pacquiao flaw spotted while reviewing a tape of the Pacman’s fight against Juan Manuel Marquez.

But for Cotto to pounce on that flaw, pundits say, he will have to transform into a counterpuncher like the Mexican star.

And Roach doesn’t believe in fighters using an eight-week camp to unlearn what they’re comfortable with.

“You can’t change your style in eight weeks,” said Roach.

Assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez also viewed the Marquez fight and knows exactly what flaw Team Cotto was talking about.

The portly trainer would make his own contributions to the game plan every now and then, chipping in reminders about how Pacquiao should tackle Cotto during sparring.

“They said they found a weakness,” Fernandez said. “We know what that weakness is and we have developed a counter for it.”

Source: http://sports.inquirer.net/professional/professional/view/20091114-236128/Firepower-clash-of-game-plans

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