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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ten Observations about Pacquiao/Cotto 24/7, Episode 3

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Las Vegas Boxing Examiner | Chris Robinson
At the present moment we are just one week away from the wildly anticipated Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto clash at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. For months now the fight and its surrounding storylines have been well documented and dissected over and over. The most recent episode of HBO’s Pacquiao/Cotto 24/7 had the overall feeling of not only a fight of great magnitude, but of a bout that is right around the corner.

In the episode, the third of this series, we again got an inside look into the camps and lives of both men. Pacquiao and his team were on display as we got a look into how the team was adjusting to life back at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, California. Meanwhile Cotto and his crew made the transition to Las Vegas, this time roughly two weeks before the scheduled showdown is set to take place.

The buzz in the streets of Las Vegas is quietly beginning to build and come fight week things will be surely out of hand. Pacquiao’s grand arrival is expected to be at the Mandalay Bay this coming Tuesday and from there the anticipation will again heighten. After taking in the most recent episode of Pacquiao/Cotto 24/7 I have highlighted some key moments that kept the third segment moving along.

Pacquiao Feeling at Ease

One of the key settings for the episode was the Wild Card Gym, where we were given a glimpse into the mindset of Pacquiao just weeks before the big showdown. The contrast in personalities between the two fighters has been very striking, as Pacquiao has been all smiles while Cotto has been nothing but business. As he warmed up at the gym Pacquiao seemed to be completely loose and care free in demeanor, while looking extremely sharp and precise while hitting the mitts with Coach Freddie Roach.

Roach and Koncz Trade Verbal Blows

One thing that stood out about this episode was the back and forth verbal assaults between Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach and advisor Michael Koncz. Koncz opened up and gave his opinion that perhaps Freddie Roach hasn’t been as essential to Pacquiao’s success as much as people have suggested. Koncz went on to state that if neither man were in each other’s lives that Pacquiao would probably still find himself as the world’s greatest fighter but that Roach wouldn’t have nearly as much of the accolades as he has received. To sum it up, Koncz basically stated in a backhanded way that Pacquiao helped to make Roach who he is.

Never one to shy away from a war of words, Roach fired back at Koncz, stating that he didn’t even know why Pacquiao had him around or what his specific job was. Roach closed out by calling Koncz a ‘gopher’, basically insisting that he was dead weight amongst Manny’s team.

Happy Birthday for Miguel

On October 29th Miguel Cotto turned 29 years of age. In conjunction with his golden birthday, Cotto also welcomed fans and media alike for his final public workout in Tamp before heading west to Las Vegas. Cotto seemed to be in tremendous shape, and conditioning Coach Phil Landman noted that the camp has been running along smoothly. Later Cotto would enjoy a birthday dinner prepared by his mother as he celebrated with those closest to him.

Cotto’s Steely Demeanor

Later on Cotto would be seen surrounded by a group of reporters as he fielded questions. One journalist asked Miguel what his biggest advantage was in the fight besides his strength and Cotto replied that he would simply be ready for anything that Pacquiao had to offer inside of the ring. Cotto also pointed out that no stone had been left unturned in training. As he spoke Cotto showed the hardened resolution of a tested veteran who had been through this many times, yet he still seems to know an apparent danger will be present when he sets inside of the ring. It’s obvious in assessing his demeanor that Cotto is trying to stay as mentally prepared through everything for this clash.

Trainer’s War of Words

Something that has been spread heavily in the media has been Roach’s criticism of Cotto’s new trainer, Jose Santiago. At just 32 years of age, Santiago took over the reigns of the WBO champion after his uncle Evangelista was shown the door out. Roach has said time and time again that Cotto is practically training himself, as a trainer as inexperienced as Santiago isn’t possibly capable of steering Cotto along under the high pressure situations that come with a fight of this magnitude.

While often a man of few words, Santiago definitely struck back by pointing out that for all Roach says nothing will change the fact that on November 14th it will be just the two men inside of the ring. Roach has seemed to slightly get inside both Cotto and Santiago’s head a little bit, as evidenced by their rebuttals to his initial remarks.

Getting to know Bryan Perez

One man who has made his presence well known during this edition of 24/7 is Cotto’s dear friend Bryan Perez. Beforehand all we knew about Perez was that he was a man of grand stature but over the episodes we have come to find the exact role his plays for Team Cotto. Perez’ technical role is the manager of Cotto Promotions but he also serves as a camp spokesperson and coordinator.

Deeper than that, however, is the deep trust that exists between Cotto and Perez. Loyalty in the sport of boxing serves as a great foundation and its obvious the two men take great solace in one another. You can see first hand through their interaction that Perez helps keep the champion at ease.

Buboy’s Tale

Just as Perez is undyingly loyal to Cotto, so too is Restituto ‘Buboy’ Fernandez essential towards Pacquiao’s camp. In the episode we were enlightened into the long history that exists between Pacquiao and Fernandez. It was said that to men’s friendship dated back to their childhood and after briefly losing touch the two men are now stronger than ever. Pacquiao reflected on their relationship and recalled a time when he came back home to find Fernandez down on his luck, which prompted him to give his friend a role within his camp.

Roach himself pointed out that he wouldn’t be able to get through a Pacquiao fight without having Buboy in the corner. Freddie further elaborated on how key Fernandez is to aiding Pacquiao with anything and everything, an obvious show of respect from Roach.

Team Cotto hits Las Vegas

As the episode came to a close the scene shifted to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas as Cotto made his grand arrival to the desert on Sunday, November 1st. Wearing a plain white T-shirt and listening to music as evidenced by the large headphones he was sporting, Cotto was completely unassuming. He signed autographs and took pictures with fans before making way to his hotel room. After spending a reported seven weeks training in Tampa, Cotto is winding down his camp just west of the Vegas strip. One can only imagine what is going through Miguel’s mind as the fight draws near.

Arum Gives His Take

One man who has never been shy about his opinion on anything is famed Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who has both Pacquiao and Cotto in his stable. As Cotto went to work at the Top Rank gym, Arum made a visit to check in on one of his prized fighters.

Arum touched on a few key points, first dismissing the notion that Santiago is too inexperienced to be heading Cotto’s ship, as suggested by Roach. Arum went on to state that Roach is a master of playing mind games and that it can be expected he would have something along those lines to say. Arum also went on to show his complete faith in the Puerto Rican bomber, stating that Cotto is probably better now than he ever has. Arum scoffed off notions that something was taken out of Cotto during his loss to Antonio Margarito, calling the fight a ‘blip’ in Miguel’s championship road.

Miguel Cotto’s quest for redemption

As the episode reached its conclusion we were left focusing on Cotto’s life and how important this fight is for him. Not only is this a battle against Pacquiao, Cotto will also be trying to erase the demons that have haunted him following his loss to Margarito. Following the loss to the Tijuana fighter fifteen months ago Cotto has had two fights, but taking place at Madison Square Garden, and his return to Las Vegas is a chance to show how much he still has left at the elite level of the sport.

Source: http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-22973-Las-Vegas-Boxing-Examiner~y2009m11d7-Ten-Observations-about-PacquiaoCotto-247-Episode-3

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