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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Las Vegas hails Pacquiao, Cotto

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By Dino Maragay (philstar.com) Updated November 12, 2009 11:29 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Las Vegas, the world-famous US city known for its bright lights and a plethora of gambling and entertainment venues, and universally regarded as the capital of big-time boxing in the planet, has long been a home for Manny Pacquiao.

In fact, “Sin City” has played host to Pacquiao’s last five fights — all of them high-magnitude bouts. The Filipino won them all, decisioning Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez, and brutally knocking out David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton.

And now for the sixth-straight time, the bustling city will once again be Pacquiao’s battleground as he chases boxing immortality against WBO welterweight champion Miguel Cotto this Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

Pacquiao, who is gunning for a record seventh world title in as many weight divisions, set foot on the main lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino yesterday and was welcomed with chants of “Manny, Manny!” from a packed crowd.

The Filipino spitfire has been installed as a -350 favorite as of this posting, meaning one must wager $350 to win a hundred bucks.

Cotto, the burly Puerto Rican banger who’s out to derail the Pacquiao freight train, arrived about an hour later with his own following. He enters Las Vegas as the underdog — albeit a heavy one — with those rooting for him needing to bet just $100 to net a cool $270.

But unlike Pacquiao, Cotto will be seeing action in a high-profile Las Vegas bout for only the second time since figuring in a brutal affair against Antonio Margarito two years ago. That fight, also staged at the MGM Grand, saw Margarito beat Cotto to a pulp for a merciless 11th round technical-knockout victory.

At the final press conference for Pacquiao-Cotto today, Las Vegas feted both fighters whose face-off at the end of the week is expected to assemble an audience composed of high-rollers, politicians and Hollywood personalities.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman graced the event and, in a simple ceremony, presented to Pacquiao and Cotto their “Keys to the City.”

“This is the most important fight in my career. It will make history in Philippine boxing. And it will be a big honor for my family, country and myself,” said Pacquiao, who also wished his foe luck as he had done in his previous fights.

“I respect Cotto’s team. They are nice and friendly. On Saturday, may the best man win,” he added.

Cotto, for his part, assured a great night of boxing for fans

“I am pretty happy and comfortable to be here. I trained a lot for this fight. It will be a great night not only for the Latinos but to the Puerto Ricans too.”

With Las Vegas showing its appreciation for two great warriors, one can expect Pacquiao and Cotto to willingly return the favor when they meet in the ring.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=522692&publicationSubCategoryId=200

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