[PHOTO AT LEFT - Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto during final media day. Abac Cordero |LAS VEGAS]

LAS VEGAS, NOVEMBER 13, 2009 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Miguel Cotto has the power but not the speed. Manny Pacquiao, the pound-for-pound champion, has both.

In Wednesday’s final press conference, the media had a field day at the Hollywood Theater of the MGM Grand, and threw so many questions that both boxers almost ran out of words to say.

Cotto, the WBO weltwerweight champion, spent lesser time with the media. It was Pacquiao, the challenger from the Philippines, who took most of their time, gamely fielding questions regarding boxing, politics and his dog.

Pacquiao referred to his speed, and his power as well, as the key to the fight, set this Saturday at the MGM. ( Related stories P22, A-34)

He said moving up in weight, as a champion in the flyweight, super-bantamweight, featherweight, super-featherweight, lightweight and junior welterweight divisions, wasn’t much of a problem because all along he was able to maintain his speed.

“I started at 105 pounds but now my speed is still the same,” Pacquiao told a pack of mediamen that stayed with him up in the stage after following the one-hour press conference.

“My speed is still there. My goal in boxing is to keep my speed even if I move up in weight because if you have speed, you have power,” added the Pinoy icon, who will face Cotto at 145 lb, two pounds short of the welterweight limit.

Pacquiao admitted that Cotto, who turned 29 last Oct. 29, is the stronger fighter, practically born as a welterweight.

“But of course, we believe in our power, too. We believe in ourselves that we have the advantage,” said Pacquiao, too fast and too strong he stopped David Diaz, Oscar dela Hoya and Ricky Hatton like he was the young Mike Tyson.

But Cotto, the underdog, said he’s ready for anything, adding that Pacquiao made the big mistake in moving up to challenge him in his territory.

Cotto trained nearly three months for Pacquiao, hoping for a win that would put him back at the center of everything after a bitter loss to Antonio Margarito in 2008, his first defeat as a pro, and a close, shaky win over Josh Clottey last June.

He said his conditioning coach, Phil Landman, is making everything possible.

“In our camp, he always comes with a lot of feeling to work. He makes me work better. I feel like I’ve never felt before in my last fights. He makes me work very well. With more energy and more power,” said Cotto.

A reporter said he visited Cotto in his recent workout, and found the heavy-handed boxer a little stronger than he was in the past.

“It’s because we work better than before. I’m pretty happy and comfortable to be here. And I trained like never before because I know the skills of the man. But we created our gameplan for the fight. I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be a great night,” he said.

Pacquiao looked more relax during the press conference, and in his face-off with Cotto, in front of a hundred cameras, he couldn’t take the smile off his face.

He was asked about his political plans.

“There is no connection with my political career here because this is boxing,” he said. “But yes, it’s (his running for Congress in 2010) because I want to help the people by giving them livelihood even if the priority is peace.”

Then he was asked about the old story wherein he said he ran away from home because his father ate his dog. The story caught the attention of many, and with the question he had the chance to clear it up.

“It was my neighbor who ate my dog,” he said of what turned out to be “a good story that never happened.”

Pacquiao was running out of things to say when Top Rank’s publicist, Fred Sternburg, ended the session.

And Pacquiao was just glad it did.

“Grabe. Sumakit ang panga ko (That was too much. My jaw hurts),” he said.

PODCAST: In-depth primer of the Pacquiao-Cotto fight

Manny will need all the luck, warns Santiago (The Philippine Star) Updated November 13, 2009 12:00 AM

LAS VEGAS – Give this round to Joe Santiago.

After taking big hits from his counterpart, Freddie Roach, the 32-year-old trainer of Miguel Cotto landed a good one during Wednesday’s final press conference at the Hollywood Theater of the MGM Grand.

“Good luck to Manny. He’s gonna need it,” said Santiago as he took his turn on the microphone and faced the media. He took a quick glance at the Pacquiao side of the presidential table then went back to his seat.

Santiago is the former nutritionist and training assistant of Cotto, and took the helm after the Puerto Rican champ had a bitter parting of ways with his uncle and chief trainer, Evangelista Cotto, a few months ago.

But Santiago, so young, so neat to look like a champion’s trainer, is being criticized for his lack of experience. He never fought as a boxer, and Roach said Cotto’s trainer “doesn’t really know what it feels to be inside the ring.”

But during the press conference he had the balls to wish Pacquiao luck because, in his mind, the Filipino icon would need it.

“Miguel is in the best shape he’s ever been. And I hope Manny Pacquiao will be in the same level,” said Santiago, who was taking his first steps when Roach, 17 years his senior, was making his pro debut at the famed Boston Garden in 1978.

In a purple sweater, dress jeans and leather shoes, Santiago proclaimed victory for Cotto.

“We’re only three days away and it will be a great victory for Puerto Rico,” he said.

A week ago, in Los Angeles, Roach said he received word that Santiago was telling him to “f***k off,’ because I talk too much they say.”

But the most successful trainer in the sport today wouldn’t stop.

“I heard he said ‘why don’t I put my trophy (as Trainer of the Year) on the line? Well, we’ll see about that after the fight. I have a thousand or a million trophies in boxing and he’s never fought before. He’s never fought in his life. Never in his life,” he said.

“He doesn’t know what it means to be inside that ring. He puts the towel over his (Cotto’s) shoulder and gives him drinking water and all of a sudden he’s a coach. Believe me, Cotto trains himself,” he said.

Roach stayed no more than 30 seconds in front of the microphone Wednesday.

“Miguel, good luck to you and your camp. See you on Saturday,” he said. – Abac Cordero

Roach to Cotto: Feel Pacman's fury early By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) Updated November 13, 2009 12:00 AM


LAS VEGAS: Freddie Roach wants Miguel Cotto to feel what Oscar dela Hoya and Ricky Hatton felt in the opening rounds.

He wants Manny Pacquiao to dictate the pace and even go for the kill if and when the opportunity arises.

“I really hope he comes out and shows his strength early on,” said Roach as he spoke to mediamen following Wednesday’s official press conference at the MGM Grand.

Roach said Pacquiao should try to get into Cotto’s mind very early in the fight, and make his presence felt the way he did with Dela Hoya, whom he stopped in eight rounds last December, and Hatton, whom he crushed inside two rounds last May.

“We have to set the pace in the first round. We can’t give Miguel the momentum and confidence because he will grow. And if we can put that in his head right away, like most people say, ‘what the f___k is this?’”

“Just like what we did with Oscar and Hatton. Although Oscar said he can take punches from Manny all day because he doesn’t punch that hard. Then why did he quit?” he said.

Roach said Pacquiao is so ready to fight that after Wednesday’s workout at the IBA Gym he tipped the scales at 144 lb.

It’s been that way the last couple of days here in Vegas, and the great American trainer said Pacquiao should show up for tomorrow’s official weigh-in right under 145 and then climb the ring the following day at 149 lb.

He expects Cotto to show up for the fight at around 160.

“I wish him the best. I know he’s powerful. I respect Miguel Cotto but he’s gonna get knocked out in this one. What round? Before the twelfth,” said Roach.

PODCAST: In-depth primer of the Pacquiao-Cotto fight

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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