Pacquiao, Cotto arrive in Vegas
Report / photos by Chris Cozzone
A mob scene-and-a-half greeted two world champions today at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Manny Pacquiao got the mob scene, Miguel Cotto got the half, when the two made their grand arrivals at the venue where they will face one another Saturday night on HBO-PPV.
Around 11:30 a.m., Pacquiao made his entrance to a crowd that filled the casino’s front lobby. After speaking to TV media and greeting fans, he made his way to the Grand Garden Arena where, after testing out the ring, he sat down with print media for a 15-minute Q&A session.
One hour later, Cotto’s bus pulled up to the casino where a crowd, not quite so large, but just as loud, greeted the Puerto Rican champion. After a brief wave to the crowd and TV interviews, Cotto, likewise, was hustled to the arena where he will face Pacquiao on Saturday.
Both fighters proclaimed peak form and said they were unfazed by the hype surrounding the fight.
“I’m happy for that and understand this part of it all,” said Pacquiao. “I am focused on the fight.”
Despite diversions in the Philippines, Pacquiao said that training camp has been good.
“I’m, right now, ready to go,” he said, touching on the high altitude of camp in the Philippines, training with former champ Jose Luis Castillo and finishing up camp in Los Angeles at the Wild Card Gym.
Pacquiao shrugged off questions about Cotto being his toughest – biggest and strongest – opponent to date.
“I believe in myself,” he said, laughing. “I don’t want to say anything before the fight, but will wait until the ring.
“My motivation? I am fighting for the people who love boxing.”
How Pacquiao has been able to move up in weight, from 105 lbs., in his pro debut, to now fight as a welterweight, is still a wonder for the champ.
“It just happened,” he said. “I watch the tape [when a 105-pounder] and I’m a kid, cocky. I struggled to make weight and lost my flyweight belt because I couldn’t make weight.
“Now, I feel strong. Like David and Goliath, as an example. But if you believe in God and train hard, if you love your opponent and love everybody, it is good.”
As Pacquiao fended off questions about size and strength, Cotto was asked to explain how he would handle the Filipino’s speed.
“I’m prepared for the speed of Manny,” said Cotto. “I have equal hand speed and prepared well with my sparring partners.
“I’m prepared for anything.”
Though Pacquiao has left reviewing tapes to his trainer, Freddie Roach, Cotto says he has studied his opponent – mainly his first fights with Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera.
“We have the key to the fight,” said Cotto. “Our camp has made the difference.”
When asked about who’s next, after Pacquiao, Cotto would not comment, but he did talk about those who are prematurely writing about a future Pacquiao-Mayweather matchup.
“Manny is the only thing in my mind right now,” said Cotto. “I don’t know what Manny thinks, but when we’re in the ring together Saturday night, he can think about whatever opponent he wants.
“It’s going to be just Manny and me and the referee. There’s nobody else.”