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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Two title belts up for Manny

LAS VEGAS – When Manny Pacquiao takes on Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand Garden Arena here on Nov. 14, there will be two titles on the line and if the Filipino icon wins, he’ll cement his legacy as one of the greatest fighters ever in the history of the sport.

Cotto has agreed to defend his WBO welterweight title after Top Rank chairman Bob Arum convinced him to. The other crown at stake is the newly created WBC Diamond Belt, the first time the governing body is awarding the prize.

Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz said yesterday the WBC belt is studded with 400 diamonds and the winner will pay $40,000 to own it.

“The WBC approved in its last convention in China to put up a Diamond Belt to recognize a championship-caliber fight at a catchweight limit,” said Koncz. “Don Jose (Sulaiman) phoned me offering the Belt to the winner of Manny’s fight against Cotto. He told me it was a big honor for the WBC to be involved with Manny and there wouldn’t be a sanction fee to pay.”

Koncz said he will scout possible training sites in Mexico before leaving for Manila on Thursday with fighter Bernabe Concepcion to meet with Pacquiao. He plans to visit Cancun and Puerta Vallarta.

“Manny’s instructions are to find a training site where there are hills for him to run up and down,” said Koncz. “That struck out the Bahamas as an option because it has no hills. I’m not sure about Cancun and that’s why I’m leaving tomorrow to meet with the Yucatan Governor and survey the place. At least, I know there are hills in Puerta Vallarta so that’s a real option.”

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said he hopes to kick off a media tour with Pacquiao and Cotto at Yankee Stadium in New York City on Sept. 10. That will lead to a Puerto Rican tour then a stop in San Francisco where a press conference is scheduled after the Giants-Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game before 50,000 fans, another press meeting in Los Angeles and finally a visit to Mexico where the travelling party will be received by the President.

Arum said right after the whirlwind tour, he expects Pacquiao to start training, possibly somewhere in Mexico. If Pacquiao plans to return to Manila, Arum said he will try to talk him out of it.

Cotto has already started training but Koncz said he’s not worried about Pacquiao.

“I know Manny wants to finish his obligations in shooting commercials and filming his TV shows and movies by the end of the month,” said Koncz. “Once Manny gets serious in training, you’ll see his determination and commitment. He’s a different man in training.”

Koncz said he expects Cotto to be more competitive than Oscar de la Hoya or Ricky Hatton.

“This could go 12 rounds,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it lasts the distance. Cotto’s a guy who can give Manny trouble. He’s big, he’s a great body puncher. He’s a fighter like Manny. What will happen after the fight? It all depends on the outcome. If it’s close, we could do a rematch. Maybe, this could even end up in a trilogy like Erik Morales. Cotto’s known as a bleeder but while he is affected when he gets cut, he doesn’t quit.”

Koncz said even as Pacquiao continues to attend to his various non-sports commitments before flying to the US, he is keeping in shape.

“He’s been jogging and playing a lot of basketball as part of his preparations,” said Koncz. “He’s cross training. I think he should be ready to fly within the first week of September.”

As for future opponents, Koncz said Sugar Shane Mosley isn’t a pay-per-view attraction and Floyd Mayweather Jr. has unreasonable money demands.

“I don’t know if Mosley will draw although in the end, it’s really Manny whom the fans want to see,” said Koncz. “As for Mayweather, unless he realizes it’s Manny who’s the attraction, not him, we won’t even talk to him.”

Koncz said his only boss is Pacquiao and sometimes, he is misunderstood because of his loyalty to the Filipino icon. For instance, Concepcion failed to attend the press conference for his fight against Steven Luevano here and Koncz was unfairly blamed for it.

“Manny didn’t want me to go to Las Vegas because I still had things to do in Los Angeles,” said Koncz. “But I reasoned to Manny that I had to be with Bernabe just as his managers were with him throughout his early years. He allowed me to go in the end as Bernabe wouldn’t go to Las Vegas without me. That meant arriving a day after the press conference.”

Koncz was also chastised for throwing in the towel in the sixth round to save Juanito Rubillar from further punishment in his WBA lightflyweight title fight against Giovanni Segura in Mexico last July.

“What fans don’t know is I spoke to Juanito in between rounds and asked him if he was okay, if he could continue the fight despite a bad beating,” said Koncz. “He didn’t answer me. I asked him during at least two timeouts. His trainer (Erbito Salavarria) wanted him to go on but I felt it was enough punishment.”

Although Rubillar took the fight on two days notice, he bankrolled close to P1 Million as a late substitute for Sonny Boy Jaro who now faces Segura in Mexico for the WBA title next month.

Source: philstar.com

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