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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Miguel Cotto-Manny Pacquiao: 24/7 Part 2 Reviewed

Last week on 24/7, there were pool parties, tattoos, and camp squabbles all made to look trite next to the very real tragedy of typhoon victims in the Philippines. With both fighters settling at U.S. camps, can week two match the viewing experience of the first?

Cue the music and real time review. “This is Pacquiao-Cotto, 24/7.”

We begin with a motorcade ushering World Jr. Welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KO) down the streets of Manila, a sign that last week’s drama over whether the camp in Baguio would be broken had been resolved. Trainer Freddie Roach and Pacquiao both comment on the need to move, Pacquiao noting they needed to be near the airport. Walking through the mall, Pacquiao plays Elvis as the crowd and chants grow, the footage spliced with comments from the President of the country.

Can anyone imagine Obama doing some face time for Floyd Mayweather? That’s some pull there.

Narrator Liev Schreiber states Roach has offered a $1,000 bounty to any sparring partner who can drop Pacquiao. Footage is shown of former World Lightweight king Jose Luis Castillo and Middleweight prospect Shawn Porter doing their best to collect. Pacquiao remains standing but Roach isn’t entirely pleased with his efforts. “If you go easy in sparring…you’re gonna’ go easy in the fight. You got to get more intense, ok? If you knock them out, that’s ok. That’s their job.”

Away from the fighter, Roach continues. “His focus is just not there right now and I can’t wait to get him out of here, get him back to (Los Angeles) and get him back on track.”

Switching gears, it’s “night time in Tampa, Florida.” An alarm clock buzzes at 4:45 AM for WBO Welterweight titlist Miguel Cotto (34-1, 27 KO) to signal the morning workout. Schreiber informs workouts are Monday-Saturday.

On the seventh day, the Lord rested. Cotto hits the links. Golfing footage with his team comes complete with music which says ‘isn’t this funny?’

Um, not really.

There is some stuff with Cotto’s son which, while manipulative in terms of slow motion camera work, is still pretty cool.

Having spent all of a minute or two with Camp Cotto, it’s back to Manila as Pacquiao works out at the National Stadium track. Conditioning coach Alex Ariza states in a sit down set-up, “Manny likes to be challenged. If I didn’t challenge him, I don’t think I’d be here.” Track footage shows Pacquiao responding to the challenges with a smiling, “Shut the *&^% up.”

More slapsticky-y, almost Joel Schumacher Bat-tastrophe, music plays as the cameras follow Pacquiao to a talk show appearance in Manila. It turns out such music was unnecessary as Pacquiao does a duet on the show of some old school Dan Hill. Funny happens on its own. No one needs the producers to ham it up.

“Sometimes when we touch, the honesty’s too much…” Anyone think this song might get stuck in Pacquiao’s head the first time he catches a Cotto hook to the ribs?

From there, the show provides Pacquiao’s trip to the airport for a flight to the States, as well as more insight into camp tensions between advisor Michael Koncz and Ariza. “Michael doesn’t really serve any purpose in camp.” Ariza observes. “Aside from getting his dry cleaning, making sure there’s no grit in the oatmeal, maybe cutting his steak, he doesn’t serve any purpose.” Koncz notes his role is growing but his salary isn’t.

And so on. Schreiber reminds, “the fight is 14 days away,” and it’s easy to think while viewing, ‘thank you for interrupting this week’s 90210 with a remembrance that a fight is coming.’

Spanish hip hop plays which means it’s more Cotto time. Cotto has a heavy bag with Pacquiao’s picture on it. That’s pretty sweet. Cotto does some sparring, with a sparring partner noting he’s in great shape and hits hard. Cotto states, “We practice here the things we’re going to prepare for the fight…we prepare ourselves better with the sparring sessions.”

Back at the camp mansion, Cotto rests while his team reviews film on Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez II. Cotto’s father recommends punching to the shoulder of Pacquiao while trainer Joe Santiago makes note of the affect of body shots on their coming foe.

Having spent less than four minutes with Camp Cotto, about half of them with no Cotto on screen, the show checks in on a Pacquiao now training at LA’s Wild Card Gym. Roach is happy to be in a more boxing-centered climate and viewers are informed personality issues sent former World Heavyweight champ Michael Moorer, an assistant prior to Pacquiao-Hatton, packing. A Pacquiao morning run is an excuse for some killer cinematography.

Returning to Tampa, Cotto’s wife and mother have arrived in Tampa for a day visit. His wife offers, “I am very emotional and I know that he is too because our family’s support is unconditional.” Poolside, Cotto, friends and family share down time and viewers get to see the fighter and his best buddy pantsing each other under water. Buddy has drawers on; Cotto goes bare ass.

Gotta’ get the women into the buy rate and all.

The whole Cotto team shaves their heads with more pool antics on display before serious subject matter is turned to. It’s obviously serious because a soft piano is playing single notes in the background (sorry, these reality show pathos cues are just too much).

Cotto split from former trainer and Uncle Evangelista earlier this year and Cotto’s father speaks about the severed relationship with his brother. “The problem was that I had to choose between my brother and my son. And you already know which side I chose.” Cotto’s family heads to the airport and we get our closing montage of both fighters.

Final Thoughts:

Last week, in the final thoughts, the following was offered: If this show failed, and it has three episodes to correct it, it was in the lack of perspective given to Pacquiao’s career. It was a similar problem in the 24/7’s for his bouts with Oscar De La Hoya and Hatton. The full scope of what Pacquiao has done, and is attempting to do, is not being fully conveyed. Pacquiao’s status as a ‘pound for pound’ leader was mentioned. Not once in the show was it noted that Pacquiao is challenging Cotto for a title in a seventh weight class, a feat never seen even in this watered down era of ‘belts for all.’

The same problem was on hand this week. Okay, fine, this is about getting into the fighters lives before they get in the ring. However, the stakes in the ring are actually interesting. This is a show about boxers training for a fight…might it not interest at least some potential viewers to know the historical ramifications of the fight? Of what Pacquiao has done over the last ten plus years?

HBO used to kill when it came to that stuff. It would do a segment back in the day on Mike Tyson’s personal life AND a comparison to something like Joe Louis’s reign of terror in the 30s. Where is the context here? A former Flyweight champion is challenging for a piece of the Welterweight title…against a really good Welterweight (at a catch weight but still)…and is favored to win.

Koncz-Ariza is more interesting than that? Really? It’s like the NFL pumping up a Green Bay-Minnesota game but forgetting to talk about Brett Favre’s years in Green Bay.

There was also the issue of screen time. Before a strong segment near the end, one could occasionally wonder if the show should be called ‘Pacquiao 24/7…with special guest star Miguel Cotto!’ (cue 80s sitcom applause). While realizing Cotto is far from Mr. Personality, he is often a killer in the ring. This is the biggest challenge Pacquiao (the deserved star of the show) has ever faced but that feeling is not conveyed.

This fight is so good it sells itself…and it better, because this week’s commercial didn’t do much towards those ends. Grade: B-

Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at roldboxing@hotmail.com

Source: http://www.boxingscene.com/index.php?m=show&id=23177

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