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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cotto-Pacquiao tickets and title? We've got answers

Since the day the Miguel Cotto-Manny Pacquiao showdown was announced in late July, I have been inundated with questions about when tickets will go on sale for the Nov. 14 superfight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and how much will they cost. I've also been asked repeatedly about whether Cotto's welterweight title will be at stake.

Now, I have the answers.

Top Rank announced Monday that tickets for the fight -- dubbed "Firepower" -- will go on sale Monday, Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT.

They are priced at $1,000, $750, $500, $300 and $150 (not including applicable service charges). Ticket sales in the $1,000, $750, $500 and $300 ranges are limited to 10 per person. The $150 tickets are limited to two per person, with a total ticket limit of 12 tickets per person. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or go to www.mgmgrand.com or www.ticketmaster.com.

Cotto (34-1, 27 KOs) and Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs) will meet at a contracted maximum weight of 145 pounds. There has been quite a bit of discussion about whether Cotto's WBO welterweight title will be on the line.

Pacquiao, the reigning lineal junior welterweight champion after knocking out Ricky Hatton in the second round in May, and trainer Freddie Roach want the title at stake because a victory would give Pacquiao titles in a record seven weight classes (flyweight, junior featherweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight).

Cotto has been reluctant to put the title up because he is coming in under the division limit of 147 pounds. However, at 145 it's still a welterweight fight, so logically the belt would be at stake. Nontitle bouts are only fought when a titleholder is heavier than the division's maximum weight limit.

But whether Cotto balks or not, the belt is going to be at stake, somebody closely involved in fight told me Monday. Whether Cotto will give up the title or be stripped and Pacquiao will fight for the vacant belt is unclear. Cotto could also just defend the title (which is what he should do). Whatever scenario plays out, my source said the title will "definitely" be at stake at least for Pacquiao. So if he wins, he'll get the belt and all the Pacquiao worshippers can rest easy. Your man can make history.

I'm no huge fan of all the alphabet titles, but there is an exception to every rule and this fight is it. Keep this in mind -- without the title on the line, it's still a must-see fight between two of boxing's best and most exciting fighters. But I'd like to see Pacquiao have a shot at the statistical milestone of winning titles in seven divisions even if all the titles in today's era have watered things down. That said, if it was so easy to win titles in seven divisions wouldn't everyone be doing it? Fact is, nobody has ever done it and I'd like to see Pacquiao at least have the opportunity to set the record and for Cotto to do his best to keep him from doing it.

Anyway, back to the tickets for a minute. Top Rank spokesman Lee Samuels told ESPN.com that there would be "under 5,000" tickets available in the public sale. The rest of the approximately 10,000 tickets are earmarked for Top Rank customers, the fighter camps, the MGM, fight sponsors and HBO (which will televise the bout on HBO PPV for $49.95 if you can't get tickets).

Top Rank is using some of its tickets for a promotion on its Web site in which you can buy tickets ahead of the public sale. If you register at http://www.toprank.com/Secure/SignUp/ you will be e-mailed a link and code to purchase tickets up to 48 hours before the they go on sale to the public.

There will also be a four-city media tour to promote the bout. It kicks off Sept. 10 with an open-to-the-public news conference at Yankee Stadium. On Sept. 12, the tour moves to Cotto's hometown in Caguas, Puerto Rico, where there will be another public event. Then it's off to San Francisco, where there will be a public event at AT&T Park on Sept. 13 following the Giants game. The tour concludes with a press-only event Sept. 14 in Los Angeles.

Source: espn.go.com

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