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Friday, September 11, 2009

Close, hard fight looms for Pacquiao

NEW YORK – Freddie Roach is calling this fight 50-50.

The three-time Trainer of the Year who had correctly predicted knockouts in Manny Pacquiao’s most recent fights has found big reasons to say that the Nov. 14 showdown between his pupil and WBO welterweight champion Miguel Cotto is going to be close.

“It could be a very hard fight. He’s strong. He’s a 147-pounder. And he’s a good puncher. He has a good left hook to the body,” Roach, who flew in Wednesday evening from Los Angeles yesterday told mediamen who gathered in front of him just off the Yankee Stadium diamond.

He said Cotto being a natural welterweight, plus the Puerto Rican’s ability to neutralize the speed of his opponents is what they’d be working on when Pacquiao officially begins training on Sept. 21 in Baguio City. They will be there for four weeks before heading to Los Angeles.

“I’ll be watching a lot of tapes everyday because he knows how to nullify speed. And he’s very, very good at measuring the distance. He knows his range. Timing is everything. Timing and distance. I’m not calling a knockout like Hatton because that fighter makes fundamental mistakes.

“And this guy (Cotto) doesn’t make mistakes. He’s a sound fighter. He’s solid. And he’s very consistent. We have a tough fight ahead of us. By fight time he’s gonna be 160 pounds and Manny should be 147,” said Roach who should be in Manila on the 19th with sparring partners in tow.

Later on, Cotto, a plus 210 underdog against Pacquiao who’s at minus 250, was himself surrounded by scribes as he sat in the Yankee dugout. He seemed to have agreed with the observations of Roach regarding the fight.

“Well he’s (Pacquiao) better than Oscar dela Hoya who was taking the last steps in his career, and he’s better than Ricky Hatton who’s always over-rated – the guy he beat with a left hook in the second round,” said Cotto of Pacquiao’s last two opponents.

“But now he’s going to face Miguel Cotto – a guy who knows how to box. So, what he has to do in the ring, and what his corner knows Miguel Cotto can do they have to figure out. He’s coming to my division coming from what... 126? And he thinks he’s going to be stronger than a guy who’s been at 147,” he asked.

During the on-field press conference, Top Rank’s Bob Arum described Pacquiao as “the guy who stopped Oscar dela Hoya and Ricky Hatton.” And Cotto later on made some clarification.

“I heard Bob Arum say that, but I’m not Oscar dela Hoya and I’m not Ricky Hatton. I’m Miguel Cotto and everybody knows what Miguel Cotto is capable of doing. I will do my best,” he said.

“It’s going to be a great, great fight. I know Miguel Cotto is bigger than me and stronger but I will do my best to give you a good fight. I respect Miguel Cotto and his team. He’s a good man, a nice man. But, don’t worry. I’ll train hard for this fight,” Pacquiao told Filipino fight fans among the audience.

“Mabuhay. Lalaban ako hanggang sa huling patak ng aking dugo (Long live. I will fight until the last drop of my blood),” Pacquiao vowed.

Roach said he has lined up Shawn Porter, Ray Serrano, Urbano Antillon and Dave Rodela as Pacquiao’s sparring partners for the fight.

Roach said he had a good talk with Pacquiao the other night, following almost two months of no communication. He said they managed to work out things all right, and that once the training starts then it’s nothing but Cotto in the mind of the reigning pound-for-pound champion.

Roach said he doesn’t have any concerns with Pacquiao setting up camp in Baguio City, the gym, inside a hotel, to be strictly guarded to ward off any form of distraction.

“Afraid of distractions? I wouldn’t go there if I were afraid of that. The only issue in the Philippines is the travel. It’s a long flight. And flying in sparring partners for 15 hours is hard. But we had a great talk last night. A hundred percent there’ll be no mayors taking him out to campaign,” he said.

“We’re campaigning for Miguel Cotto right now,” added Roach.

Source: philstar.com

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