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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

QUIET AND CONFIDENT: Cotto ready to let fists do the talking

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Miguel Cotto walks into the Top Rank Gym near Interstate 15 and West Flamingo Road and it's as though the outside world ceases to exist.

He looks lean as he prepares to train. He's not talking, leaving that to his trainer, Joe Santiago. He has no time to waste.

Cotto fights Manny Pacquiao on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden and despite being the WBO welterweight champion, owning a 34-1 record with 27 knockouts, having iconic status in his native Puerto Rico and being revered whenever he fights in New York, he is playing second fiddle to Pacquiao.

It's almost as though Cotto is being looked at as an afterthought, with the focus on his opponent.

Cotto takes it all in stride -- at least outwardly. He doesn't worry about the predictions of Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's longtime trainer, that his man is going to knock Cotto out in the first round. He doesn't get insulted by all the look-ahead discussion about Pacquiao fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2010.

But it's probably serving as motivational fuel to stoke his engine.

"I am here to do my work," Cotto said. "I am not an artist. I am just a boxer and I have to be focused on the things I am going to do (Saturday) and that is the reason I am here.

"It's not really important to me what the boxing world wants to see. Once I beat Pacquiao they can continue their plans and do what they want. But I am not going home without winning this fight."

Cotto is coming off a courageous effort in June against Joshua Clottey in which he earned a 12-round split decision despite suffering a bad cut over his left eye early. It also was a valuable lesson in perseverance in the ring.

"I learned how to deal with huge problems in a title fight," Cotto said. "I had a huge cut over my eye, a strong opponent in front of me and I was the winner of the fight."

It took the lone loss on his record for Cotto to renew his dedication to boxing. He had dominated his fight with Antonio Margarito in July 2008 fight early on only to see Margarito come on in the later rounds and score an 11th-round TKO.

Since then, Cotto stopped Michael Jennings in February and beat Clottey in June.

"After the Margarito fight, I dedicated myself even more to boxing," Cotto said. "Look where I am now and look where Margarito is now."

Margarito is serving a year's suspension for using an illegal substance inside his gloves in a loss to Shane Mosley in January.

Santiago said Cotto's dedication to this fight and not looking backward or ahead will be the difference Saturday.

"He has had a great camp," Santiago said. "We've trained very well, from Puerto Rico to Tampa to here (in Las Vegas). He's a great professional. He handles everything well."

In the past, Cotto's camps have not exactly been harmonious.

Prior to his fight weith Margarito, there was friction between Cotto's father and his uncle, who was training him, and that seemed to negatively impact the fighter.

But this camp has had a tranquility about it that reflects Cotto's mood. He's quiet yet confident.

He's not letting anything distract him. He appears relaxed and content.

"I trust my team and they trust me," Cotto said. "When I put my feet in the gym they know they're going to get 100 percent from me.

"I am prepared for anything (Pacquiao) can bring me. He has a lot of things beside his speed. I have to be prepared for all he can show me.

"No matter who talks, his trainer or whoever says he is going to win, I know that I am very confident that I am going to come out with a victory that night."

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

Source: http://www.lvrj.com/sports/cotto-ready-to-let-fists-do-the-talking-69639397.html

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