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Pacquiao, Cotto: Something in the air

Report by Andreas Hale
Photos by Chris Cozzone

There’s something in the air about November 14th’s showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto that says fight fans are in for a historic fight with tremendous implications. The signs were all apparent as the final press conference took place at the Hollywood Theater inside the MGM Grand Garden on Wednesday.

It has nothing to do with the victor holding the new WBC Diamond championship belt – which sparkles with 600 diamond, by the way. It’s not about the money that each fighter stands to gain. It may not even have anything to do with the winner being the next in line to face Floyd “Money” Mayweather.

Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto are two of the sport’s best fighters meeting in their respective primes. It feels like the 1980’s all over again: The clashes between Hagler and Hearns, Leonard and Duran and Pryor and Arguello were legendary encounters that saw fighters exchange brutality it its most beautiful form. Saturday night’s bout between Cotto and Pacquiao could be equally as epic.

It’s one of those fights where when the fighter says that he is in the best shape of his entire life, you really believe him. There isn’t much more that can be said to raise the stakes on Saturday night. Both fighters know what will be coming out of the corner when the bell sounds at the MGM Grand Garden. Both fighters understand that they may not leave the ring as the same human being they were before entering. This is serious business.

“This fight is the most important fight of my boxing career because if I win this fight, it will go down in history,” Pacquiao said during the final press conference. “It’s a big honor to my country, for my family and for myself. That’s why I work hard.”

“I’ll do my best to give a good fight. I want people to enjoy that night and also the people who are watching in their homes,” he continued. “On Saturday, may the best man win.”

Every fight that Pacquiao has been in has become bigger than his last. Demolishing an over the hill Oscar De La Hoya surprised many, but there was the “old man” excuse standing in the way. His remarkable destruction of Ricky Hatton was impressive, but some will say that Hatton was wrecked after being systematically dismantled by Floyd Mayweather Jr. If he manages to get by a true welterweight like Miguel Cotto, there won’t be any more “buts” between Pacquiao and greatness.

Miguel Cotto isn’t one of those fighters whose style is tailor made for Manny Pacquiao to dominate. He’s not Ricky Hatton, he’s definitely no David Diaz and he’s much younger than Oscar De La Hoya. He fights with tremendous courage and gives his opponents all they can handle. His only loss was to an Antonio Margarito whose entire career has come under suspicion after his use of illegal hand-wraps was uncovered prior to the Shane Mosley. Aside from that, Cotto has been marvelous in the ring. He represents the type of fighter who could cause Pacquiao a surplus of problems with his tremendous body punching and ever-evolving boxing skills. But he’s never been in the ring with a fighter like Manny Pacquiao.

“In this fight, he is not the star of the show,” Bob Arum said about Cotto. “But he plays a role that has made this fight what it is. Miguel Cotto is the biggest obstacle in Manny’s path. He is a true welterweight with a heart as big as this room. When the bell rings there won’t be one icon and one great fighter. There will be two great fighters in the ring and they will be fighting for their country and their families.”

The Puerto Rican - whose expression never changes - was all business during the presser. Understanding the challenges that are in front of him, Cotto seems to be more focused than ever.

“I’m pretty happy to be here,” Cotto said. “I trained like never before for this fight because I know the skills of Manny. We created a game plan for this fight and we are pretty sure this is going to be a great fight for boxing all over the world – but especially for the Latin fans and the Puerto Ricans.”

“Miguel is the best he has ever been and I hope Manny Pacquiao is performing at the same level,” Cotto’s trainer Joe Santiago said. “We are only three days away from the fight and it will be a great victory for Puerto Rico. Good luck to Manny, you’re going to need it.”

“Luck” may not be the necessary trait that will need to surface in order for either fighter to win on Saturday night. The proper preparation combined with heart and the ability to impose their will against their opponent sounds like the perfect mixture for success. Any way you look at it, Cotto Vs Pacquiao is what boxing fans have been waiting for.

“This is a once in a lifetime fight,” Pacquiao said.

It truly is. Not just for Pacquiao, but for everyone who will be watching. This is one of those fights that has the potential to be great. Where will you say you were when Pacquiao and Cotto fought?


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