By Ronnie Nathanielsz
The “Hero of Asia” Manny Pacquiao has given Top Rank promoter Bob Arum specific instructions - "get me (Miguel) Cotto on November 14."
The fight which is expected to be at a catchweight for Puerto Rican fighter Cotto's WBO welterweight champion crown will take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Arum spoke to BoxingScene.com, insidesports.ph, Standard Today and Viva Sports after arriving in Las Vegas from a tremendously successful promotion at an almost sold out Madison Square Garden where Cotto narrowly beat Joshua Clottey by a split decision in a fight where Clottey claimed he was robbed.
Arum said he would “try to conclude an agreement on Monday with the Cotto people” even as he revealed “these are my instructions from Manny.”
Pacquiao and celebrated trainer Freddie Roach as well as some of Pacquiao’s advisers were looking at a fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr before Cotto. However, Arum said the rib injury reportedly suffered by Mayweather in training which resulted in an indefinite postponement of his scheduled July 18 fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, “means Manny couldn’t possibly fight Mayweather until sometime next year.”
Arum said “it was a real surprise” and that they hadn’t heard about it when Pacquiao made the decision to fight Cotto. Arum predicted “it would be a great, great fight and I can’t wait to see it.”
Pacquiao’s close friend and confidant Rex “Wakee” Salud said the Cotto fight is the easiest to make because Cotto is also handled by Arum. Salud indicated the WBO welterweight title held by Cotto would be at stake even though the fight is likely to take place at a catch-weight of between 143-144 pounds.
The 28 year old Cotto who has a record of 34-1 with 27 knockouts weighed 146 for the Clottey fight and Salud believes he won’t have problems coming down a couple of pounds considering the big money he will make by fighting Pacquiao, the No.1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Pacquiao and wife Jinkee are scheduled to arrive in Manila at 11:00 p.m. Monday on a Northwest flight from New York.
Arum revealed that Pacquiao was “surprised at the tremendous ovation he received which was really something” from the huge predominantly Puerto Rican crowd at Madison Square Garden when he walked in with wife Jinkee to watch Filipino light flyweight Rodel Mayol battle undefeated Ivan Calderon of Puerto Rico in the main supporting bout to the Cotto-Clottey clash. Pacquiao watched the main event intently before giving Arum instructions to get a Cotto title fight done. Arum himself had earlier been pushing for a Pacquiao-Cotto showdown although he indicated to us he was not averse to having a Pacquiao-Mayweather megabuck fight later this year.
Former Pacquiao business manager Rod Nazario who largely guided his career to WBC flyweight title against Chatchai Sasakul and the IBF super bantamweight title against Lelohonolo Ledwaba and the Ring Magazine belt against Marco Antonio Barrera with promoter Murad Muhammad claimed that Pacquiao is “too fast and too strong for Cotto who is also scared. I believe he lost that fight to Clottey and he quit against (Antonio) Margarito sitting down.”
A partner of Nazario, respected TV boxing analyst and original Team Pacquiao member Moy Lainez “if that’s the way Cotto fights (referring to the Clottey fight) then against Pacquiao he’s good for five rounds. If Pacquiao connects with the punches Clottey hit him with, its goodbye.” Lainez also said Cotto appeared “scared of cuts and I think he has no heart, especially after the Margarito fight. He could have gotten up but he didn’t. He’ll fight Pacquiao for the money.”