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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Making sense out of Cotto trainer Joe Santiago's strong comments against Team Pacquiao

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Indianapolis Fight Sports Examiner | Dennis "dSource" Guillermo

For starters, Joe Santiago, Miguel Cotto's 31-year old head trainer since his last fight against Joshua Clottey, has dismissed his counterpart, Manny Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach who has come out and questioned Santiago's cornering experience in the media calling him "green".

Santiago responded by saying he is not concerned about Roach's tactics of bashing his opposing trainer and proclaimed victory for Puerto Rico on November 14 and added, "Freddie Roach will not be fighting in the ring on November 14th, it will be Manny Pacquiao."

Not if you asked former Pacquiao opponent David Diaz. “It looked like Freddie Roach was holding me down and letting Manny at me. Man, his speed is just unbelievable!” Diaz told Philboxing.com months after his loss to Pacquiao in 2008 where he ate 10-punch combos and simply could not locate his opponent all night.

Other than his usual speed advantage, Pacquiao may be the only person in the ring every time he fights but Roach definitely makes his impact through his masterful scouting and strategic analysis of his favorite fighter's opponents. True, in it's literal sense, Roach does not take or throw punches for Pacquiao inside the ring, but his significance can be seen through the perfectly executed game plans he instills on Pacquiao. One might not be inclined to put a lot of stock on coaches when a team or an athlete is winning, but there's a reason why Phil Jackson, Mike Krzyzewski, Pat Riley, Urban Meyer and a host of other great coaches in different sports get all the credit and all the millions they do.

Further, Santiago has made a statement about Pacquiao on Puerto Rico's El Nuevo Dia saying, "Manny Pacquiao is a bloated 126 pounds. He's a fighter who started at 108 pounds and has reached 145. It is very bold and so far has gone well, but on November 14, it'll be different. We have great respect for his career and hats off to him for what he's done in boxing, but on that day Miguel will be the stronger man in the ring. That will be one of the points in our favor."

I am not sure Santiago understands the kind of fighter they are facing. After going up against Pacquiao once, former Ricky Hatton trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. was so shocked and awed by the phenomenal physical specimen that blew past his ward and has said Pacquiao is on steroids. Well, how can you blame the guy, some things Pacquiao has done inside the ring have been flat out unbelievable. But those who have seen him train might have a better explanation for his incredible physical condition.

After watching Pacquiao train at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, actor and Emmy award winner Jeremy Piven said he was "so inspired" and have never seen anybody work as hard as Pacquiao does when he is training. Promoter Bob Arum who has seen the biggest names and the best in boxing train, has equivocated the same statements saying “In more than 40 years as a boxing promoter, working with Hall of Fame fighters like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, and Roberto Duran, I’ve never (seen) anything like it. His training sessions go on for about four hours without a break”, Arum wrote in his column In My Corner and added,“The shear athleticism that Manny brings to his workouts reminds me of the great martial artist Bruce Lee. The more one reflects on Manny and his ring performances, the clearer it becomes that he is the Bruce Lee of boxing. This athletic style is unique in boxing to Manny. In more than four decades of promoting fights, I have never seen anyone like Manny Pacquiao and his Bruce Lee style of boxing.”

Bigger, maybe. Stronger? We shall all see. Pacquiao is a byproduct of the poverty that created the fighter and warrior in him that stopped at nothing to achieve lengths even he could not have initially imagined. His steroids is his drive and the people that support him like his friend and trainer Buboy Fernandez and his fans that help keep that drive alive. Pacquiao started as a skinny kid who admittedly had to put on steel weights in his pockets at weigh-ins just to make the minimum pro fighting weight allowed inside the ring. Through hard work and determination to cultivate his God-given talents, those "weights" have transfered into his fists.

Perhaps those statements Santiago made simply reinforces Roach's statements regarding his inexperience. Team Cotto can "belittle" Pacquiao all they want but the clear edge in terms of preparation, coaching and strategy clearly belongs to Manny.

Source: http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-10947-Indianapolis-Fight-Sports-Examiner~y2009m11d8-Making-sense-out-of-Cottos-trainer-Joe-Santiagos-strong-comments-against-Team-Pacquiao

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