There is a distinct air of uncertainty surrounding Team Manny Pacquiao as they begin the journey to prepare for the ultimate showdown with Miguel Cotto on November 14 in Las Vegas.
There seem to be several omens which favor Cotto at this point in time. Cotto has already been hard at work for three weeks down in Puerto Rico with his training team. Pacquiao has been doing roadwork but has been more focused on non-boxing activities. Also he will break tradition and will start his camp after the press tour concludes next week, not in Los Angeles at the Wildcard Gym but in The Philippines, where distractions are aplenty.
On top of that, the hard truth is that Miguel Cotto is a far more dangerous, far stronger and much more complicated opponent than Hatton and the part-time boxer De La Hoya were.
Yesterday at the Yankee Stadium press conference, Freddie Roach did not disagree with how risky a fight with Cotto is. “Cotto weighed 146 for his last fight (vs. Joshua Clottey), he’ll have no trouble making 145,” said Roach. “That’s why I say this is the toughest fight of our life. He’s a true welterweight. In his prime. It’s a tough fight.”
Though there were reports that Roach was not pleased about Pacquiao’s decision to hold camp in The Philippines, that issue has been resolved. “Manny is unbelievable. He goes to The Philippines and he’s a movie star and he’s making movies and all that stuff. As soon as he gets into the gym, he can separate all that. All those distractions he leaves outside the gym. Once he gets in training mode, he’s 100%.”
Before the Hatton and De La Hoya fights, Roach was clearly confident about Pacquiao’s chances and did not hesitate to express that confidence to the media. Regarding Cotto however, Roach will not make any bold promises. “It’s gonna be an extremely hard fight. We have to be very careful. He’s very strong. He’s got a great left hook to the body. I’ve been watching a lot of tape on him. You watch his fight with Shane Mosley, he nullified Shane’s speed and that’s not easy to do.”
Later Roach admitted Cotto vs. Pacquiao is a 50-50 fight, though Pac is the betting favorite by approximately 2-1 odds. “This is even money. This is a tough fight. I don’t expect Manny to fight a perfect fight. But I’m not predicting an early knockout like Hatton. Hatton made fundamental mistakes. But this guy doesn’t make mistakes. This guy is a sound fighter. He’s solid. He does everything consistently. He’s not overly great at anything – but he’s consistent. We have a tough fight. Because of his size. By fight time he’s gonna weigh 160, Manny will be 147.”
Roach also downplayed the choice of setting up camp in The Philippines. “I wouldn’t go there if I was afraid of distractions. The only issue with The Philippines is the travel. 16 hours long. We had a long talk last night (Weds.), everything is fine. No mayor is taking him anywhere to campaign or anything like that. We’re in training for Miguel Cotto now.”
He says Pacquiao realizes how dangerous Cotto will be. “Once we get in training camp that will not be a problem. Manny respects everybody he fights. He trains the same – 100%. We’ll change the strategy a little bit for this fight.”
When asked to make a prediction, Manny Pacquiao would not give a definitive one of him achieving victory on November 14. “It’s hard to say now. It will be a great fight. I will do my best.”