[PHOTO AT LEFT - Freddie Roach MANILA, Philippines]

MANILA, JULY 28, 2009 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Freddie Roach is already in the “planning stage” as far as Manny Pacquiao’s coming fight with Miguel Cotto is concerned.

The three-time Trainer of the Year told The Las Vegas Review Journal yesterday that he plans to visit the Philippines next month just to make sure that Pacquiao is on track heading to the big Nov. 14 showdown with the reigning WBO welterweight champion.

Roach wants Pacquiao to train from eight to 10 weeks for the Cotto fight, and Day One at the Wild Card Gym should start on the second week of September or just after the press tour that will take the fighters from New York to Puerto Rico.

Even before Pacquiao goes to the US, Roach wants the reigning pound-for-pound champion to start flexing his muscles back home, getting rid of those excess pounds so by the time he reports to the gym they won’t have to start from scratch.

Meanwhile, Roach will start doing his homework in his Los Angeles home. “I know Cotto pretty well. I haven’t really studied him yet. I have a pretty good idea how we want to fight him, but until I sit down, watch the tapes and talk to Manny, we’re still in the planning stage,” Roach told the Review Journal.

The fight is pegged at a catchweight of 145 lb, two pounds short of the welterweight limit, and it remains uncertain if the 27-year-old Cotto will stake his title. Reports said WBO wants him to, but others say it just won’t happen.

Bob Arum said Cotto doesn’t want to stake his title because he doesn’t want to pay the sanction fee, whether it’s $150,000 or so much more than that. A lot of people are hoping that Cotto does put the crown on the line.

“I’ll go (to the Philippines) sometime next month and we’ll get started. For this fight, speed is going to be important. I think if you get Cotto in a fast-paced fight, he’ll tire. So we want to come out quick and set a fast pace. Speed is our biggest asset.”

Pacquiao fought Oscar dela Hoya at 147 lb last December, showing up for the weigh-in at 142 and climbing the ring at 148 1/2. Dela Hoya, who was knocked out inside nine rounds, weighed in at 145 and showed up for the fight at 147.

But Cotto is not Dela Hoya.

“He’s a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger. But I think Manny’s the better boxer, and Manny’s defense is the best it’s been. I think Pacquiao will stop him along the way,” said Roach.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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