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Pacman in San Diego

By Felipe Leon

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Photo: Chris Farina - Top Rank

Bob Arum of Top Rank along with famed trainer Freddie Roach brought their star pupil, the six divisional and current pound for pound #1 fighter in the word Manny Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37KO) to Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres, to celebrate Filipino Heritage Night and to announce “Firepower”, Pacquiao’s clash with current WBO welterweight champion Miguel Cotto (34-1, 27KO) slated for November 14th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV. “We started in Yankee Stadium in New York City and then headed to Puerto Rico. From there to San Francisco and then Beverly Hills, California and now Manny wanted to say hi to all his fans here in San Diego,” Arum stated to begin the press conference.

Photos: Chris Farina – Top Rank

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“We are are heading to the Philippines tonight to get ready for this fight. This will be Pacquiao’s seventh world title and we can’t wait for this fight,” Freddie Roach said enthusiastically. It was rumored that Pacquiao and team would begin their camp in Cancun, MX, but Roach dispelled the hearsay. “It was between Cancun, Canada and the Bahamas but we feel comfortable in the Philippines. We are going to a region that is secluded, in the mountains, Manny has built a camp there, it is at about five thousand feet above sea level.”

Pacquiao, as always in high spirits, seemed content that many of the assembled press were representing the large Filipino contingent found in southern California and especially in San Diego.

“I have been to San Diego three times with my family, we have gone to Sea World with the kids,” Pacquiao said between chuckles.

The topic soon turned to Miguel Cotto, the three time world champion and quite possibly the biggest challenge of Pacquiao’s career since Cotto is a natural welterweight in what many might consider the prime of his career.

A fact that is not lost on the Filipino superstar.

“I can’t compare his to De La Hoya or Hatton, he is bigger and stronger than me that is why I must work hard and get ready for this fight,” Pacquiao stated while Roach agreed.

“Ricky Hatton was supposed to be stronger and bigger but it didn’t turn out that way,” Roach added. “There is no other fighter in the past that we have faced that would compare to Cotto. We will need to use more lateral movement and to look out for that left hook, he is a tough guy and a smart fighter.”

An advantage that Roach does see in their favor is the reality that Evangelista Cotto, Miguel’s former trainer and estranged uncle, is no longer in their opponent’s corner.

“I think his uncle was good for him and they had a good thing going but for personal reasons, it didn’t work out,” Roach added diplomatically.

Only four hundred tickets are available of the 16,000+ available in the MGM Grand and Arum, President of Top Rank and the promoter of both fighters and the night, shared what he expects of the night.

“I think this will go down as one of the greatest fights in history, right up there with Hagler-Hearns and the third Ali-Frazier, the ‘Thrilla in Manila’,” Arum continued. “The Puerto Rican fans as well as the Filipino ones are very passionate and great sportsmen. I expect the night of the fight to have a lot of cheering, flag waving and all the fans being well behaved.”

“I think we are going to win a twelve round decision,” Roach stated as far as the outcome for the fight. “We don’t want to exchange with Cotto in the inside because of that left hook. We need to work on speed.”

As far as the future, neither promoter or fighter wanted to state anything concrete for possible opponents in 2010 if Pacquiao should have his hand raised on November 14th.

“We have to bake the cake, we have to promote this fight and then see what happens,” Arum stated emphatically. When asked about the invisible elephant in the room, a possible mega fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. next year, he simply stated:

“I don’t know about Mayweather. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, he has a fight with Marquez.”

“I like the fight,” Pacquiao stated about a possible mega bout with Mayweather. “I think it would be a good fight but first I have to think about November 14th.”

“Mayweather could have waited one day and signed to fight with Manny but he decided to fight Marquez,” Roach revealed. “I don’t think he wants to fight us because he doesn’t want that loss on his record.”

“Firepower” is slated for November 14th at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, NV. A very limited amount of tickets are still available. The Pacquiao-Cotto twelve round bout for the WBO welterweight title and the inaugural WBC Diamond belt will also be broadcast by HBO Pay Per View into 79 million homes in the United States and Canada.

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