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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Manny Pacquiao fight with Miguel Cotto a classic in the making

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By Gareth A Davies, Boxing Correspondent
Published: 6:10PM GMT 07 Nov 2009

Arum, speaking exclusively to Telegraph Sport from the Top Rank offices in Las Vegas, explained: "I see this fight as a modern version of Duran v Hagler, or a Hagler v Hearns fight. It has that feel about it, that kind of excitement.

"Two great fighters, loved in boxing. Magazine stories, unprecedented media requests, two entire countries following their fighters, I really believe that on the night this will turn out to be a classic."

Marvin Hagler v Thomas Hearns, at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, in April 1985, is regarded by many as the most exciting eight minutes in fight history, with Hagler the winner by a technical knockout in the third round. It was Fight of the Year after both men went at it from the opening bell like men possessed.

Cotto against Pacquiao brings together two fighters who are sporting icons in Puerto Rico and the Philippines respectively, and who are regarded as boxing's No 3 and No 1 pound-for-pound, respectively, at present.

Cotto, 29, a two-weight world champion, has fought at welterweight for three years, and has been beaten only once in 35 contests, while Pacquiao, 30, attempts to win a seventh world title in a seventh weight division, which has seen him come up over eight years from flyweight to welterweight. He has been beaten twice in his 55-fight career, with two draws.

Although this contest is taking place at 145lbs, Cotto's World Boxing Organisation welterweight (147lb) crown is on the table.

When Hagler and Hearns met in 1985, for the WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight titles, Hagler was 30, and had lost only twice, much earlier in his career, while Hearns was 26 and had been beaten just once, stopped in the 14th round by Sugar Ray Leonard.

Arum, who promotes both Pacquiao and Cotto, visited both training camps – in Baguio City in the Philippines and Tampa, Florida.

"The way Manny and Miguel are talking about it, it could be like the three-round war between Hagler and Hearns," said Arum. "The conventional wisdom is that Cotto is best when he's aggressive, but I don't know if he feels he can be aggressive with this guy from the get-go. But if Cotto is aggressive, though, it could be a Hagler v Hearns all over again.

"People ask what it's like promoting two fighters under you. It's only a win if it turns out to be the great fight you think it'll be.Then, in spite of there being a loser, both men are elevated in the eyes of the public."

So, what of preparation? "Cotto is very, very confident," said Arun. "His work effort is very, very good. He's been very methodical. He hasn't changed anything with his workouts, doing what he has always done.

"Obviously in sparring, he's been trying to be able to counter what he expects Pacquiao to do. Cotto will be Cotto on the night. He's a big, strong welterweight with a great left hand and a great body punch."

Over to Camp Pacquiao. "The other guy is inhuman," laughed Arum. "I've never seen anyone work like he does. Four hours without taking a break and at the end he has some guy with a pole hitting him in the gut for five minutes. It's almost like he's superhuman. It's like Bruce Lee coming to boxing, that's what it's like. He was sparring with Shawn Porter, who is a big guy, a junior middleweight, who is fast, and very good. To my view, from one day to the next he just gets better and better.

"I can see now why Ricky Hatton got blown away. No one has ever seen anything like this in boxing. When he's sparring it's almost like he's doing magic. It's eerie to watch Pacquaio. His is a workout the most dedicated athlete in the world couldn't duplicate."

The $6 million question is who will win?

Understandably, Arum cannot call it. "I don't know who's going to win this fight. Cotto is the strongest, best fighter Pacquiao has ever been up against, and I don't know how he'll deal with that. Cotto will know he can't compete with this guy in speed or technique. With Pacquiao, you've got to time him and tag him, try to hurt him and slow the guy up."

Arum paused. "Look, something about Pacquiao isn't human. He's already planning his normal concert – where he'll play and sing for an hour and a half to fans – in the middle of preparing for all this."

If it lives us to its billing, Cotto v Pacquiao could become a classic.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/boxingandmma/6520713/Manny-Pacquiao-fight-with-Miguel-Cotto-a-classic-in-the-making.html

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