By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Filipino boxing hero and the world’s top pound-for-pound fighter Manny Pacquiao is set to begin a hectic schedule on a promotional tour for his “Fire Power” showdown against WBO welterweight champion Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on November 14.
Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz said the champion had "a good rest on the flight from Manila to New York" after wrapping up his commitments in the Philippines which included shooting a movie, TV shows, commercial endorsements and other activities.
Pacquiao gave way to his musical inclinations when he began playing the grand piano in his New York hotel suite shortly after being checked in.
Pacquiao is in New York along with Cotto, the pride of Puerto Rico, to kick-off their cross country, five city tour with a huge press conference at the spanking new, state-of-the art Yankee Stadium on Friday, Manila Time.
The two fighters will fly to Cotto’s hometown in Puerto Rico for a big media event on the 12th after which they will leave for San Francisco where there will be another big media affair at the Giants stadium before they return to Los Angeles for a 4:00 p.m. gathering at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Monday.
They will wind up the promotional tour in San Diego before getting into the serious business of preparing for their eagerly-anticipated title fight with Pacquiao returning to the Philippines to train in the summer capital of Baguio City along with trainer Freddie Roach. Pacquiao told us he planned to train f or one month in the refreshing Baguio environment at an altitude of over 5,000 feet before winding up his preparation at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles and tapering off in Las Vegas.
An added attraction which according to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum drove the fighters "crazy" was the newly-minted “WBC Diamond Belt” which will be at stake in the clash of what WBC president Don Jose Sulaiman described as “elite fighters.”
Pacquiao was elated when he received his Diamond Belt jacket in his hotel suite and indicated there is added motivation for him to win his record-setting 7th world title in the clash with Cotto.
Despite some concern over Pacquiao’s numerous commitments in the Philippines which some experts feel may tell on his shortened training stint, both Pacquiao and his conditioning excpert Alex Ariza are confident that an eight week schedule was perfect, as anything longer would result in Pacquiao being burned out or over-trained.
Not known to many, Pacquiao actually trained secretly during breaks in his rigorous schedule by jogging and playing basketball. At a luncheon hosted by Solar Sports for Pacquiao and IBF light flyweight champion Brian Viloria, prior to their departure, Pacquiao looked trim and fit and indicated he was around 150 pounds or some five pounds over the catch-weight of 145 pounds for the Cotto fight.
Viloria was also scheduled to leave for Los Angeles on Thursday along with his girlfriend Erica Navarro.