[PHOTO AT LEFT - Manny Pacquiao MANILA, Philippines]

MANILA, AUGUST 14, 2009 (PHILIPPINE STAR) By Abac Cordero - A diamond-studded championship belt from the WBC might be the final answer to the question on whether or not Miguel Cotto would stake his WBO welterweight crown against Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 14 in Las Vegas.

While the fight contract has reportedly been signed by both fighters, it wasn’t really specified if the Puerto Rican’s 147-lb title will be on the line. Cotto had previously said he won’t stake his crown at a catchweight of 145.

Now comes the WBC which is offering the Diamond Belt, and it seems that Bob Arum, who has both Pacquiao and Cotto in his Top Rank stable, is buying the idea that should leave the WBO without a chair when the music stops.

The Diamond Belt reportedly costs $50,000 to make, and is studded with 400 diamonds. Based on an online diamond price guide, one can purchase diamonds with a carat weight of 0.15 to 0.25 for a minumum of $125 each.

Pacquiao’s adviser, Mike Koncz, told The STAR two days ago that they’re seriously looking at the Diamond Belt, which is designed to give elite fighters fighting at a catchweight a title which the organizations wouldn’t sanction.

Koncz clarified that the WBC, under president Jose Sulaiman, did not come up with the Diamond Belt just for Pacquiao.

“My understanding is that it was the result of a resolution during the last WBC convention six or seven months back. So you can’t say that the WBC is putting up this title for Manny,” said Koncz.

“It’s for elite fighters to fight at. And I was told there’s close to 400 diamonds in the belt. Cotto is 147 and Manny is 140. If they want to meet in the middle and the sanctioning bodies can’t do it... that’s the purpose of this belt,” he added.

Koncz said the WBC may offer the Diamond Belt to other elite fighters fighting in a catchweight of any other division.

Cotto said he was not staking his WBO crown because he doesn’t consider 145 lb as a division, and that he can’t seem to let go of his $150,000 as sanction fee to the WBO. Pacquiao said he was willing to pay his.

Bob Marley of The Examiner yesterday wrote an article saying Sulaiman “has undercut the sanctioning fee price” for both Cotto and Pacquiao as long as they fight for the Diamond Belt.

And all that’s needed now is for someone to pay for the cost of the belt at $50,000.

“Insiders say Arum is still angry at (WBO president Paco) Valcarcel for how the WBO leader’s constant Puerto Rican golf course buddy, Oscar de la Hoya, wound up playing with Cotto recently,” Marley wrote.

In turn, the article also said, Sulaiman is a strong ally of Cotto lawyer Gabriel Penagaricano Jr., an official of the WBC and whose father has a long history of being affiliated with the WBC.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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