With a bright colored bus outside the Wild Card Boxing gym painted with the pound for pound champion’s name it wasn’t a surprise to see several hundred people waiting in the parking lot.
Manny Pacquiao has become synonymous with “the big fight” that drives the sport of boxing and keeps the industry humming even in the worst of economic times.
Pacquiao’s media day is the last time journalists can see the Filipino super star before he fights Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto (34-1, 27 KOs) for the WBO welterweight title on Saturday Nov. 14.
The big fight takes place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It’s also available on HBO pay-per-view.
Reporters arrived an hour before the expected time. It was a good move for those who did so.
Pacquiao arrived a few minutes after 1 p.m. and his arrival caused a stir among the press. He dived into a dressing room and changed into his sparring and workout attire, Then about a dozen reporters from various newspapers and a couple of respected web sites were shuffled into the 6 by 10 foot room.
The questions by reporters were not fired at the Filipino champion probably because he’s been through all these matches before that he was the size under dog.
“They said I would have problems with David Diaz and (Oscar) De La Hoya,” said Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs) in his usual understated tone. “Cotto is a very good fighter.”
Once again Pacman will enter the ring against a champion who on paper should be the bigger and stronger fighter. Cotto has only one loss that came by knockout. Fans of the Puerto Rican still insist he was beaten by Antonio Margarito and loaded gloves. Though it was never proven. Most forget that an inspector looks at the wrappings of each fighter especially during a big fight. So be it.
It’s not Pacquiao’s problem and he lets you know that he doesn’t care about Cotto’s past, or his own future.
“I only care about Cotto,” said Pacquiao, whose trainer Freddie Roach has predicted a knockout victory for his protégé.
“It was on Monday when I finally saw the Manny I want to see,” said Roach, who added that Pacquiao worked the mitts for 17 straight rounds.
For those who aren’t familiar with the mitts, it’s often more strenouous than sparring because you can’t take a breather or back away from contact.
“He looks sharp and he’s in the shape I want him to be,” Roach said.
In the past, every time Pacman headed to the Philippines to train it’s resulted in a sub par performance. Sure he won but a 12-round unanimous decision against Oscar Larios who was knocked out by Israel Vazquez in less than three rounds. That is not what most expect from Pacquiao.
“I’m working hard so I can give a fight the fans want,” said Pacquiao.
The pocket-sized bomber has never given a dull fight in his entire pro career and with more than 90 million fans all over the world, he doesn’t expect to start next week.
“Cotto is a good boxer,” Pacquiao reiterated. “He likes to use pressure and he can box too.”
Pacquiao says his father, mother and sister will be arriving in Las Vegas to watch him fight. Though his mother had been to Las Vegas during his fight, she didn’t actually watch the fisticuffs.
“A lot of people look to me to feel good about themselves,” says Pacquiao explaining his popularity. “I’m very thankful.”
Fight fans all over the world are thankful for the fighter known as Pacman. They know if they tune in they’ll see a true prizefighter attempting to wrest a piece of history. But standing in the way is a welterweight Gibraltar named Cotto.
“I’m improving my skills everyday,” Pacquiao says.
Next week the world gets to see if it’s enough to beat Cotto.
“I’m very confident in him as of this week,” said Roach.
It’s hard to bet against Freddie.