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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Team Pacquiao awaits Cotto ‘clone’

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BAGUIO CITY - There was a faint, however palpable, murmur of doubt from the boxing online community when trainer Freddie Roach said Manny Pacquiao will weld Miguel Cotto’s behind to the canvas when the two clash on November 14 in Las Vegas.

Shawn Porter, though, thinks the doubters are in for a surprise. “He’s going to shock the world again,” Porter said.

That’s from a guy who earned his share of applause from an appreciative gym crowd after landing jarring punches and crisp combinations at the Filipino pound-for-pound icon Thursday, the second day of sparring for Pacquiao.

“He’s getting hit too much but that’s because his timing isn’t there yet,” said Roach, who noted that Pacquiao generally starts off slow during the opening two weeks of training camp.

“First couple of weeks aren’t always the best. But we don’t really start boxing until six weeks before the fight so we’re still ahead of schedule.”

Pacquiao, though, didn’t seem to be bothered by the hits, opening himself up to barrages while leaning on the ropes as if to say he can absorb the best that his sparring partners can dish off. And to underscore that point, Team Pacquiao is planning in yet another beast of a sparring partner in Omar Henry, another Cotto clone.

“[Henry has] the same build, same everything, same haircut; the guy likes to be Miguel Cotto,” said conditioning coach Alex Ariza of the sparring partner who is expected here within the week.

Porter, though, admitted that he felt the sting in Pacquiao’s punches this early and said that the first few days of sparring isn’t much of a gauge as far as preparedness is concerned.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” said Porter. “It’s just a matter of staying focused and getting him more ready.”

This early, Pacquiao has now logged seven rounds of sparring and Roach admits that they’re still at 40 percent for the fight against Cotto, where the Pacman will be aiming to gobble up the Puerto Rican’s WBO welterweight title in an attempt to become the first boxer to win world crowns in seven different—including lineal belts.

“He still needs work on his timing but I’m really happy,” Roach said. “I’m not completely satisfied because he leaned on the ropes too much. His performance today isn’t what’s going to beat Cotto but that’s why we’re here.”

Roach had earlier predicted that Pacquiao would knock Cotto out in their bout slated at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Porter, pressed for a prediction, begged off. Although he made it clear he wasn’t betting against the Filipino.

“Hey, that’s the Pacman,” Porter, who was accompanied by his father and coach Ken to the sparring session, said. “He’s definitely the best of the best.”

Meanwhile, Top Rank chief Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, arrived here Thursday and was greeted by a throng of supporters at the Shape Up boxing gym where the Filipino trains while in this bustling summer capital.

Arum arrived in Manila early morning and flew directly here with former Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson.

Pacquiao started his work out by warming up and stretching with Ariza in front of clicking cameras as Roach opened the doors of the gym to the media.

“That’s why he was playing around a bit, putting a show for you guys,” Roach joked.

Pacquiao, who the night before played 10 games of basketball to continue whipping himself into competitive shape, then worked the bags before heading to the ring for four rounds of sparring; two with Porter and with Mexican Urbano Atillano. He then skipped rope before capping his day’s training session with frenetic shadow boxing.

Source: inquirer.net

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