[PHOTO AT LEFT - Manny Pacquiao doing road work in file photo. Andy Zapata | MANILA, Philippines]

MANILA, OCTOBER 27, 2009 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Start fast and finish strong.

As simple as that, Freddie Roach laid out part of the gameplan when Manny Pacquiao shoots for the WBO welterweight crown against reigning champion Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico on Nov. 14.

“We need to be fast and aggressive at the start,” said Roach, noting that Cotto, being a slow starter, may be thrown off track if Pacquiao jumps on him right on the opening bell at the MGM Grand.

“Miguel is a slow starter. We must not give him the momentum because he gets stronger,” added Roach.

After five weeks of training in three separate gyms in the Philippines, Pacquiao arrived in Los Angeles Saturday evening, took a rest the following day, and should be at the Wild Card Gym today.

It will be two weeks of intense workout in Roach’s Hollywood sweatshop, where the number of sparring rounds will get to as high as 12 before they start tapering off heading to the final week before the fight.

Roach, who’s been working in and out of the ring making sure he prepares the right plan against Cotto, said he’d love to see Pacquiao jumping on the younger, bigger and stronger Puerto Rican.

Based on his previous fights, the hottest trainer in boxing today said Cotto is most vulnerable in the early going, and against Zab Juddah the 27-year-old champion was in trouble midway through the first round.

Juddah is not Pacquiao, and Roach believes that if caught early, Cotto may find himself in bigger trouble against the heavy-handed Filipino pound-for-pound champion.

Before training camp started last Sept. 21, Roach said the coming fight might last the distance, but after a couple of weeks at the gym in Baguio City he said they’re going to get Cotto “in the early rounds.”

A few days ago, Internet stories came out saying Roach is even looking at a first-round stoppage. However, he said he was just “playing round” when he said that.

“The thing is I feel that if we go after him and pressure him right away we can get him out of there. If you see his tapes, he’s been hurt in the first round at least seven times he’s been down a couple of fights,” Roach was quoted as saying.

But Cotto refused to be cowed, saying he’s “never seen a boxer win fights with the talking of his trainer.”

Joe Santiago, the man in charge of Cotto’s training, said on Nov. 14 they will pull off “the greatest upset of the year.”

Roach believes that’s not going to happen if Pacquiao does what he likes doing – start fast and finish strong.

Sports Cotto hits back at Roach; Pacquiao flies to LA tonight By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) Updated October 25, 2009 12:00 AM

[PHOTO AT LEFT - Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto (inset)]

MANILA, Philippines - Freddie Roach will do anything for his fighter, and that includes throwing the opponent off.

Miguel Cotto, however, isn’t buying any of his statements.

“I have never seen a fighter win with the talking of his trainer,” Cotto, who’s just 20 days away from a fight with Manny Pacquiao, told Puerto Rican paper El Nuevo Dia yesterday.

“So, I want to tell Freddie Roach, Miguel Cotto and his team do not care. The important thing here is that I’m not going to see Freddie Roach’s face in the ring. I will be there with Manny Pacquiao,” Cotto added.

Roach is playing mind games with Cotto the way he’d played them with Pacquiao’s most recent opponents.

He did it with Juan Manuel Marquez by trading harsh words with his counterpart, Nacho Beristain, with Oscar dela Hoya through his famous “can’t-pull-the-trigger” battlecry, and with Ricky Hatton when he told Pacquiao he’d be “disappointed if the fight lasts more than three rounds.”

“I’d do anything to try and throw them off,” said Roach, who created a stir just days before the Dela Hoya fight when he started questioning the Golden Boy’s hand wraps.

This time, so close to the fight, Roach is saying Pacquiao is capable of “knocking out Cotto in the first round.”

“He can say anything, try anything to draw the attention and try to be the hero of the whole promotion. But on Nov. 14, we will see who talks in the end, the ones who did all the talking or the ones who stayed silent,” said Cotto.

The WBO welterweight champion from Puerto Rico is the silent one.

He opened camp a couple of weeks ahead of Pacquiao, and stayed in there the whole time, eating, breathing and thinking of nothing but Pacquiao. Chances of watching Cotto as he trains in the gym are slim and none.

In contrast, Pacquiao is always there to see, except for sparring days when Roach would rather close the doors. But otherwise, on the road, in the gym and inside his suite, he’s always in the company of friends, of fans.

Roach said Pacquiao is down to 156.5 lb, which is just a little over the catchweight of 150, and is now 90 percent fit and ready to fight.

Pacquiao was to spar 10 rounds yesterday at the Gerry Peñalosa Gym in Mandaluyong City, was scheduled to host dinner with close friends and team members, and at 10 p.m. should board the PAL plane to Los Angeles.

In the long flight to LA, one that may take 12 hours and a little over 7,000 miles, Roach can always think of something new to say.

Because Cotto, still, isn’t buying.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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