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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pacquiao, Cotto take the bad out of boxing

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by Norm Frauenheim on 11 November 2009

LAS VEGAS – It was a news conference, which only means not a whole lot happened. Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto talked Wednesday like diplomats after accepting keys to the city from the only politician with a title, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.

If Goodman’s gift included any keys to what might happen Saturday night at the MGM Grand in the most anticipated fight of the year, nobody was saying. Pacquiao said thanks. Cotto said thanks. But their plans might as well have been state secrets, closely guarded by both and one as important to the Philippines as the other is to Puerto Rico.

Their good manners and polite tone are unusual for boxing, which has busted as many ear drums as it has noses over the noisy years. Then again, Pacquiao-Cotto is an unusual bout between fighters likable for lots of reasons, the biggest of which might be the significant absence of redundant trash talk.

It qualifies as a big fight, perhaps one of the biggest in years, without anybody assigned to trite roles. There are no bad guys here. Even Las Vegas resident Floyd Mayweather, Jr., who might meet the winner, hasn’t asked for a ringside seat, promoter Bob Arum said Wednesday.

Without any of the familiar noise, there is a sense that the fighters are conserving their energies and bad intentions for the opening bell. Too many fights over too many years have fallen flat after shout-downs that always promised a beat down, but rarely delivered. Pacquiao-Cotto is loaded with the promise without any of the talk.

“I don’t know what will happen, but I will do my best,’’ said Pacquiao, who is favored to win the 145-pound bout.

The closest thing to braggadocio came from Cotto’s 32-year-old trainer Joe Santiago.

“”It will be a great victory for Puerto Rico,’’ said Santiago, who is only three years older than Cotto. “Good luck to Manny Pacquiao. You’re going to need it.’’

There’s a theory that Cotto looms as Pacquiao’s biggest roadblock in his ascent to international stardom. Cotto’s has been at welterweight longer than Pacquiao, who started his pro career as 106- pound 16-year-old. Cotto is comfortable at the weight. Translation: Cotto’s has power that Pacquiao has yet to feel. The counter is that Cotto has never seen Pacquiao’s kind of speed and will see it only after it comes, goes and leaves him looking up at the Filipino with his back on the canvas.

It adds up to a mix of possibilities that talk for themselves. If that’s not enough, there is a world of media already talking about the fight, mostly because of Pacquiao.

In introducing Cotto, Arum said: “Psychologically –he knows it and I know it – he is not the star of the show.’’

Pacquiao’s stardom was portrayed at the news conference by a photo of him on a poster-sized cover of the Asian edition of Time. The international edition of the magazine has a reported circulation of about 1 million. An additional 50,000 copies were printed because of Pacquiao, according to a spokesman. Those are just some of the numbers that seem to add up to a pay-per-view bonanza, one million or more customers.

“We now are on track to exceed one million,’’ said Home Box Office senior vice-president Mark Taffett, who said the mid-week sales made the fight “as hot as a pistol.’’

If Pacquiao-Cotto meets the 1-million milestone, it will be the second fight this year to hit the mark. Mayweather’s decision over Juan Manuel Marquez in September had one million customers. The last time there were two pay-per-view fights that surpassed one million apiece was 1999 with 1.4 for Felix Trinidad’s upset of Oscar De La Hoya and 1.2 for the Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis draw.

Without Pacquiao, the prospects probably wouldn’t be so bullish. He has been showing up everywhere these days, including a rehearsal Tuesday for a concert at nearby Mandalay Bay. Pacquiao, the lead singer for the band MP, is scheduled to be on stage sometime after his date with Cotto.

Pacquiao doesn’t plan on singing the blues.


· Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach played it politically-correct Wednesday. But that might not last until opening bell. For at least a couple of weeks, Roach talked a lot, including a prediction that Pacquiao would win a first-round knockout. Roach placed a $1,000 best at 40-1 on that proposition. Are more head games on the agenda? “A little bit,’’ Roach said. “I’m not done.’’

· Arum said Roach and Pacquiao is the greatest trainer-fighter alliance since Angelo Dundee and Muhammad Ali.

· Roach expects Pacquiao to be at about 149 pounds at opening bell. He said that the Filipino arrives at the gym for workout at 148 and leaves at 144. Roach expects Cotto to beat about 146 pounds at fight time.

Photo by Chris Farina/ Top Rank

Source: http://www.15rounds.com/pacquiao-cotto-take-the-bad-out-of-boxing-111109/

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