PACQUIAO vs. COTTO

November 14, 2009 // 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT (HBO PPV)

Firepower // MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas

BEHIND - THE - SCENES BLOG

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Friday, 6:20 p.m. ET -- Weigh-in

Huge roars for both Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao at the weigh-in.

Pacquiao was ripped as always, weighing in at a tight 144 pounds.

Cotto looked lean and strong and easily made the contracted 145 limit.

The two fighters shook hands and took turns to address their fans.

That's it for the buildup, just the fighting remains. See you tomorrow.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 5:10 p.m. ET -- What about Money May?

Revis Sparkman writes in from Tennessee to ask: "Has there been any talk this week about Floyd Mayweather? He's the elephant in the room because other than to Shane Mosley, there's nowhere he can go but to take on the winner of this fight."

Yes, there's been a fair bit of talk -- both in the sense of what immense business a bout between him and Saturday's winner would do. But also because the huge enthusiasm from the crowd and optimistic predictions for pay-per-view buys give the lie to Mayweather's insistence that all roads lead to him and that he is the biggest game in town.

"I think Mayweather's missing out. I doubt he's feeling too good about things," said Brian Viloria.

Look, Mayweather deserves immense credit for doing 1 million buys against Juan Manuel Marquez. He is a huge draw. He taps into the urban market in a way that nobody has done since Tyson. But he isn't the only game in town any more. The winner of this fight, especially if it's Manny Pacquiao, is at least as big a star.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 5:05 p.m. ET -- More on that rebate

Rudy Gomez writes in regards to the Tecate $25 rebate on pay-per-view costs: "I did it for the Marquez-Mayweather pay-per-view on Sept. 19, sent out all of the pieces needed for the rebate, got the $25 check around Halloween. Pretty quick turnaround and it's a great deal."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 5 p.m. ET -- It's rockin' and rollin'

Terrific atmosphere building here. It's funny: There's a big buzz in the casino, then it's relatively quiet along the Studio Walk between the casino and the arena, and then a long, excited line snaking from the entrance to the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Apart from the fact that the Filipino fans are quieter and more sober, this is close to Floyd Mayweather-Ricky Hatton territory in terms of enthusiasm and buzz.

Update: The MGM Grand Garden Arena is full. No more people are being allowed into the weigh-in. The arena was configured for 7,000 for the weigh-in, but there isn't a seat remaining. There's still a large crowd milling around outside, not quite able to believe that they're here an hour in advance and they can't get in.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 4:45 p.m. ET -- Coach Adams speaks

I bumped into veteran trainer Kenny Adams while doing a circuit of the MGM Grand and asked him his feeling about the main event on Saturday. His feeling? Manny Pacquiao's sharp, chopping punches are likely to open up Miguel Cotto's cuts and that the Puerto Rican may end up being stopped. As others have wondered, he isn't too sure Cotto is the same guy since the Antonio Margarito fight.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 4:40 p.m. ET -- Juanma Time

Junior featherweight titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez has two reasons to be in Las Vegas: to celebrate his birthday and to support his countryman Miguel Cotto.

As for the Cotto-Manny Pacquiao affair, the Puerto Rican has a clear prediction.

"Cotto should dominate, even win by knockout, but it will depend on his stamina, on his cardiovascular capacity," Juanma said. "Manny Pacquiao is a fighter who throws a lot of punches, but he is a little bit unorganized. If you counter him, you're likely to dominate him, and Cotto has a great counter-offense."

Stamina seems to be a crucial word in Juanma's dictionary.

"If Cotto gets tired, Pacquiao will have an advantage in speed, but I don't see Cotto losing by KO because he is very strong," he said.

Juanma also dismissed the notion that the experience of each trainer would make a difference in this fight. He also dismissed the oddsmakers, who have made Pacquiao the favorite to win this fight.

-- Mario Fraticelli


Friday, 4:35 p.m. ET -- Tough to watch

Brian Viloria is part Filipino and has made no secret of his admiration for Manny Pacquiao. But he is also friends with Miguel Cotto:

"I've known Cotto since I was 14. We fought in the amateur ranks. We fought on the same circuit. He's a great fighter, he's such a good defensive fighter. I want to see if the [Antonio] Margarito fight has taken anything out of him. The way he trained, the way he's been taking this fight so seriously, I think he's going to be better than he's shown the past couple of years."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET -- Not following suit

"I'm comfortable where I'm at it," Brian Viloria said of being a junior flyweight champion. "I don't see myself moving up to 147 [pounds]. I'd just be a pudgy Filipino." Instead, he is making the second defense of his second title reign on Jan. 23 against Carlos Tamara. What he really wants, though, is a rematch with Edgar Sosa, who beat him on a majority decision in 2007, or a battle with Puerto Rico's Ivan Calderon.

Of course, Viloria originally won a title in 2005. The world seemed to be his oyster, but he lost the belt to Omar Nino in 2006, and then lost to Sosa, before rebounding to gain a second belt in April.

"The second world championship was more special to me," he says. "It's gotten me to the point where I'm like, 'Even though you're world champion, you can never take it easy. Every fight from now on, you have to prepare yourself so much more, because you have such a target on your back.'"

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 4:20 p.m. ET -- Hawaiian Punch weighs in

I sat down yesterday with Brian Viloria, the IBF junior flyweight champ. He's truly a great guy, and always happy to sit and talk, so I asked him his thoughts on Saturday night's main event:

"I think it's going to be a very tactical fight. Miguel Cotto is the bigger, natural welterweight, but I think he's going to have a really hard time dealing with Manny [Pacquiao]'s speed. As far as Manny goes, I don't think he should be in the middle of the ring trying to engage with Cotto. Cotto's much heavier with his punches, and he's a really good body puncher as well.

"The thing about Manny is his speed is so deceptive. You think you can catch him but it's really hard to prepare for that kind of style. He's so awkward. He throws punches from angles you can't prepare for. He throws punches that aren't in the book. But Manny has to stick to his game plan. He cannot engage and go toe-to-toe with Cotto. Manny needs to do what he did with Oscar [De La Hoya], come in and throw one, two, three [punches] and get out. You saw Cotto against [Antonio] Margarito, he took tremendous punishment. Yes, he eventually gave way, but it took until the 11th round. I don't think Manny has that kind of power."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 2:10 p.m. ET -- Con caracter

This pay-per-view is something like the fifth or sixth major event to be sponsored by Tecate, which continues its recent tradition of offering a rebate on the pay-per-view to purchasers of special commemorative 12-packs.

That's good for boxing, which during its years in the wilderness sought the credibility of corporate sponsorship.

It's good for the sponsors, too; according to Tecate's Daniel Cuellar, they have seen spikes of 25 to 30 percent increases during major events.

This event marks the first time that Tecate will be running its promotion in Mexico as well as the United States; it's quite a testament to Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao that the choice for the first event to be so promoted south of the border features not a Mexican headliner but a Puerto Rican and a Filipino.

"We are appealing to Latins, not just Mexicans, and I believe both of them are major personalities in boxing," says Cuellar. "We're associated with the sport and not just Mexican fighters."

"Con caracter," indeed.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 2 p.m. ET -- Wouldn't want to miss the action

The weigh-in is four hours away, and already there is a long line of fans snaking from the entrance of the MGM Grand Garden Arena and into the casino.

The first person in line, a Filipino fan, has been there since 5:45 a.m. PT. Yes, 5:45!

And there I was, thinking all roads lead to Floyd Mayweather.

So far, the fans have been lining up quietly, but every time someone comes in or out of the media room, the growing chants waft through the door. Sounds like the cries of "Co-tto! Co-tto!" may be winning this round.

The weigh-in for the main event takes place at 6 p.m. ET. You can watch it live on ESPN.com and ESPNEWS, simulcast on "SportsCenter."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 1:30 p.m. ET -- Music and marketing

ESPNdeportes.com visited Top Rank's gym in Las Vegas, where we were able to watch a (light) training session with Miguel Cotto.

Confirmed: Cotto's condition couldn't be better.

And what does the Puerto Rican fighter listen to while he punches the mitts and skips rope? Salsa and reggaeton. The gym walls blasted under the sounds of the music of Don Omar and Gilberto Santa Rosa.

But we also notice that Cotto is his own DJ. The Puerto Rican fighter interrupts his routine to change the musical selections. It seems that, without the right music, skipping rope doesn't have the same desired effect.

Meanwhile, Team Cotto turned the opportunity into a marketing affair. Once the training session was over, a cell phone company distributed Cotto-Pacquiao T-shirts to the journalists. Salsa, reggaeton and "Firepower."

-- Mario Fraticelli


Friday, 1:20 p.m. ET -- A promise to make 145

Joe Santiago, Miguel Cotto's trainer, has indicated that his charge will tip the scales at the agreed weight of 145 pounds, two pounds under the welterweight limit. The weigh-in is scheduled to take place today at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

"You will see. Miguel won't have any problems making weight," Santiago said.

Santiago was grateful for the recent comments made by Evangelista Cotto regarding Santiago's skills and his knowledge of boxing.

"I didn't expect less from Evangelista Cotto. Everyone knows he was my mentor and I have him in my heart even though he is in Puerto Rico," said Santiago about the fighter's uncle, who was separated from Team Cotto after a scuffle with his nephew before the Cotto-Joshua Clottey fight. "Just as [Evangelista] said: we've been together in the line of fire."

-- Mario Fraticelli


Friday, 12:45 p.m. ET -- Makin' Haye

Normally, Saturdays are the quietest day of fight week -- at least until first bell.

Tomorrow, though, is filling up with some conflicting events: A news conference at the Mandalay Bay to formally announce the Jan. 30 bout between WBA welterweight champion Shane Mosley and WBC champ Andre Berto, followed by a media luncheon hosted by Oscar De La Hoya and Richard Schaeffer to honor new WBA heavyweight titlist David Haye.

Haye will doubtless be telling us all about his victory in the recent Bigmouth versus Bigfoot, er, David versus Goliath promotion in Germany and how he wants a fight with brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 12:30 p.m. ET -- Tough to watch

Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto are popular fighters who put on spectacular shows.

Having said that, I know at least one person who doesn't want to watch the fight because they hate the idea of one of their favorite fighters losing.

Scratch that: I know at least two people who aren't looking forward to the idea of watching Cotto and Pacquiao hit each other: The event's promoter Bob Arum, who likes both men a great deal and says both have been great to and for him.

He can't cheer for one, he says, and he can't cheer for both when they're beating the hell out of each other. But both guys wanted the fight, the event stands to make a ton of money for everyone involved, so whatcha gonna do?

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 12:25 p.m. ET -- He fights, he sings

After he knocked out Ricky Hatton in two rounds in May, Manny Pacquiao and his band performed a concert at The Beach at Mandalay Bay.

After Saturday's fight with Miguel Cotto, he's planning to perform again, this time in the Events Center, at 10 p.m. PT, which is about an hour after the fight is scheduled to end.

I've heard from several folks that he has been rehearsing two hours a day, even during fight week. As one observer said in the press room yesterday, "If Miguel Cotto hits him with enough body shots, he's going to be singing soprano."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 12:20 p.m. ET -- The Bears

The Chicago Bears know all about beatings of late, but they'll be able to relax ringside after their loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday. Coach Lovie Smith has apparently given them special dispensation to take the weekend off and take in the fight.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 10:15 a.m. ET -- The one-two punch

Mark Taffet of HBO PPV is always reluctant to make predictions of how many buys a fight might do. But before the Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez bout, when most of us were predicting 600,000 or so buys, he laid out a convincing case for why it might do more, and was proven correct.

It is clear that the tracking numbers for Saturday's fight are through the roof, and the prospect of back-to-back pay-per-views gaining 1 million buys or more is an exciting one -- for Taffet and for the sport.

"We haven't had a one-two punch like [Floyd] Mayweather and [Manny Pacquiao] since the days of [Mike] Tyson and [Evander] Holyfield," he says.

Could this be a return to the way things were for boxing?

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 10 a.m. ET -- Cotto being overlooked?

Miguel Cotto's trainer, Joe Santiago, says he doesn't understand why Manny Pacquiao is the favorite to win their clash on Saturday.

"I can't understand why Pacquiao would be favorite," he said. "Look at who we've had fought, and the guys he's fought. He's had a couple of guys who weren't as good as they once were. It's a big surprise they overlook all these skills [Cotto] has, that he's shown in the past."

Cotto's hit list includes wins over Joshua Clottey, Shane Mosley, Zab Judah, Oktay Urkal, Carlos Quintana, Paulie Malignaggi, Ricardo Torres, DeMarcus Corley and Randall Bailey.

Pacquiao's ledger includes wins over Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya, David Diaz, Juan Manuel Marquez (twice), Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales (twice).

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 9:45 a.m. ET -- Joe Santiago speaks

A few of us had a chance to catch up with Miguel Cotto's trainer, Joe Santiago, on Thursday afternoon. It's pretty clear that the Cotto camp is quietly confident.

"We're going to beat [Manny Pacquiao]," he said. "It's just a question of whether we'll get our due."

Santiago thinks Pacquiao is predictable. He and camp Cotto have been watching tapes of the Filipino's life-and-death battles with Juan Manuel Marquez.

"We know what to expect from Manny Pacquiao. He doesn't change overnight. He does what he does," he said. "We watched [the Marquez fights] a lot, especially the second fight. We liked the way he fought the second fight, especially in Round 8."

In that round, Marquez bloodied Pacquiao and had him sagging against the ropes. Team Cotto clearly likes its chances to do the same.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 4:50 p.m. ET -- Boxer Marcos Maidana's take

I have to say that even though this is the second time I am in Las Vegas, this is the first time that I can feel the real environment of a big fight. I am in Vegas training to defend my title on Nov. 21 in Argentina against Panama's William Gonzalez, but I cannot avoid the contagious feeling of a fight like the one between Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao.

When I was asked about my opinion on this fight, I instantly thought that, in some way and even though I am not at the level of those monsters, it was a similar fight to my bout with Victor Ortiz in terms of style. For one, Cotto is strong but slower, just like me. And Pacquiao is faster, left-handed and moves a lot, but I don't know whether he will withstand the punishment, as it was the case with Ortiz.

In my case, the strategy was to overwhelm Ortiz so he couldn't take advantage of his greater mobility and speed. I had to try to pin him against the ropes and shorten the distances by throwing a lot of punches. I believe that's exactly what Cotto would have to do on Saturday. Pacquiao is used to throwing bombs from the very start, and that's where Cotto has to be careful, because that's where he can start falling apart. I don't believe Pacquiao can knock him out with one punch in this division, but he is capable of punishing him little by little.

In the end, I believe that Pacquiao's speed will be too much for Cotto. In boxing, punching power is not everything. I can say this from personal experience. I am a puncher, but sometimes I get complicated with an opponent that moves around a lot. And when they do, my punches don't hurt them as much.

We'll see what happens, but this is one of the best fights of the past few years between two exceptional fighters. Obviously, I would love to face either of them sometime in the future. Who knows? Maybe we can do it one day.

-- Marcos Maidana


Thursday, 3:50 p.m. ET -- Gomez on Cotto

Former "Contender" star Alfonso Gomez will open the pay-per-view with what promises to be an exciting fight against Jesus Soto Karass. I asked what he, as a former opponent of Miguel Cotto, thought of the main event:

"Miguel Cotto is very strong, a solid welterweight, but I see him as the slower of the two, and when he gets cut or hurt, he backs down a lot. [Manny] Pacquiao is fast, always in tip-top shape, he shows angles, he's always moving. He also carries that power, and when he gets cut or hurt, he gets hungrier. So I think Pacquiao has the edge."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 3:45 p.m. ET -- Expect Manny to be tested

Along the same lines, J. Sims offers the following:

"I think the big question that will be answered Saturday night is whether Manny Pacquiao can handle being hit by a true welterweight. The last time Pacquiao was hit by someone hard and often was against Juan Manuel Marquez. Oscar De La Hoya never got anything off against him, and the Ricky Hatton fight ended too quickly. Miguel Cotto has good power for a welterweight, and Pacquiao has at least been stunned at lightweight. It's pretty obvious his power has carried up with him, but has the chin?"

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 3:40 p.m. ET -- Does this make Joe Santiago Tom Coughlin?

Keep those e-mails coming about the biggest fight of the year so far. Here's one from Sal Cano:

"Manny Pacquiao reminds me a lot of the New England Patriots a couple of years ago: Their offense was so great, their victories so dominant and they seemed unstoppable. But when they finally were tested, so many glaring problems became noticeable: The line was dominated by a ruthless New York Giants defense, and the secondary was beaten by a receiver who was too big to handle.

"When Manny goes into deep waters -- which he hasn't been in more than a year -- we're gonna find out the truth."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 3:30 p.m. ET -- Credit will be due

Indirectly, my friend "Judge" Anthony Lynn responds to Joel's question:

"David Diaz wasn't even a contest, Oscar De La Hoya was as drained as my bathtub after a bubble bath with the Mrs. and Ricky Hatton can't stick to a game plan if it was stuck to his forehead with a staple. Miguel Cotto came in against Joshua Clottey at 146, a pound under the welterweight limit and one pound more than his contracted weight for this fight. If Pacquiao beats Cotto, I don't wanna hear one peep out of anyone."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 3:10 p.m. ET -- As good as advertised?

Joel Ramirez asks:

"Bob Arum is one of the greatest promoters in boxing history and one of the best in general.

"He does, however, have a reputation of being an excellent matchmaker for his fighters. This was always a criticism of Oscar De La Hoya; he was moved along too carefully while with Top Rank. Is this now the case with Manny Pacquiao in the 140 to 147 weight classes? Is Manny as great a fighter as he has looked against Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya and David Diaz?

"Those looking at Manny with a critical eye are quick to dismiss Diaz as a rugged but severly limited fighter, Oscar as a weight-drained shot fighter (maybe Freddie Roach saw this while training Oscar), and Hatton has always looked ordinary versus fighters with quick hands and/or feet.

"Does Miguel Cotto now fit the mold of any these previous opponents?"

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 3 p.m. ET -- Filling up

The media room is full and buzzing now as the undercard fighters prepare for their news conference.

Among the fighters set to hit the podium are Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Alfonso Gomez and Yuri Foreman.

I'll let you guys know if we get anything good in terms of quotes.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 2:50 p.m. ET -- Bert, Kieran and Blackjack

On Wednesday, Bert Sugar and I filmed a preview of Saturday's fight for HBO. While playing blackjack at a private table. Poorly.

Check out the video here.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 1:55 p.m. ET -- How different things might have been

As most folks know, Manny Pacquiao's great coming-out party was when he destroyed highly regarded IBF 122-pound champion Lehlohonolo Ledwaba in 2001. What I hadn't realized was that the only reason Pacquiao got that opportunity was because he just happened to be in Roach's gym, looking for a trainer.

"If he hadn't stopped by my gym … Ledwaba's opponent fell out, and he was available," Roach said. "That was the only reason he got that fight. It was just chance."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 1:50 p.m. ET -- When Freddie met Manny

Freddie Roach was contemplating Wednesday what life might have been like without Manny Pacquiao.

"Where would I be and where would he be if we'd never met? I'm so happy he walked in my gym that day. I'd never heard of Manny Pacquiao in my life. He walked in my gym and said, 'I hear you're pretty good on the mitts.' So we worked out and after one round, it was a done deal. One round. It's funny because that's why I built the gym. You never know when the next Mike Tyson might walk through the door."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 1:45 p.m. ET -- Fighters who take a beating

J.D. Camacho writes to follow up on the question of the fighters who have taken a beating and had a good career afterward:

"I'd list Evander Holyfield as one. He takes a beating (because of his heart, hepatitis, or something else, but still a beating) against Riddick Bowe in the rubber match, comes back and defeats Mike Tyson. I'd list Kostya Tszyu as well. But it does seem rare. Fighters like Alexis Arguello, Meldrick Taylor and Jose Luis Castillo never got it back."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 1:30 p.m. ET -- What if Cotto pulls a Floyd?

Thanks to Joe Stearns for the joke he sent me, which made me laugh but which I can't reproduce on a family Web site. What I can reproduce, though, is this question he asked:

"My prognostication regarding the Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez fight (size doesn't matter) ended up being completely wrong. It was especially ironic that Floyd ended up weighing in over the contractual weight. Which actually raises a good question. What do you think will happen if Cotto weighs in over the 145-pound limit?"

Personally, Joe, I don't think that will happen. Floyd Mayweather didn't even try to make the contracted weight for the Marquez fight. Miguel Cotto is a consummate professional, who normally weighs in at 146 or so anyway, so I doubt the extra pound will be any kind of problem.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 1:15 p.m. ET -- That's pretty sharp

Manny Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach reckons his boxer is not just getting bigger, he's getting better.

"He knows boxing now," he told me. "I used to be the teacher and he was the student, but that's not how it is anymore. Now, I'll show him a new move and he'll make adjustments with me, he'll tell me, 'Well, I'm more comfortable doing it like this,' and I'll say, 'Well, that can't work because of this,' or 'That can work, good.' We work it out together now. Sometimes if it ends up being a bad move, he tells me, 'Erase that.' He knows the game as well as me. We were doing the mitts yesterday and every time I was about to tell him something, he made the move before I could say anything. Yesterday was the sharpest I have ever seen him in my life."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 1:10 p.m. ET -- History in the making?

Before Manny Pacquiao fought Ricky Hatton, I said to some friends that I had a feeling the figher of this generation we would be discussing 20 years from now wasn't Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins or Roy Jones but rather Pacquiao. I ran that past friend, historian, bon vivant and boxing fixture Bert Sugar, and he had some fascinating things to say about Pacquiao's potential place in history:

"I call him the Evel Knievel of boxing," Sugar said. "He's leaping over divisions and collecting hardware along the way. By that standard, he is to be considered among the elite. But even more so, is if he wins on Saturday, that will be seven titles in seven weight classes. That's as monumental as Rocky Marciano going 49-0. The only person I can compare him to is a man I presently have as No. 2 all time: Henry Armstrong."

Wow, Bert, so that means you have him ranked really high already?

"The one thing holding me back is that I like to wait until after a fighter's career is finished. I don't even know if he has peaked yet. But he's already the greatest Asian fighter and greatest southpaw in history. Assuming that he wins on Saturday, he's worthy of consideration in top 15 all time, at least, and quite possibly top 10."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 1 p.m. ET -- Recovering from a beating

Chris Lamb writes to ask:

"Are you aware of any recent fighters who have taken that kind of beating [that Cotto did against Margarito] and still returned to show they remained elite and not damaged goods? I have been wondering that, and I can't really think of any …"

Chris, I put this question to my buddy Bert Sugar Wednesday night, and, well, it isn't exactly recent, but the first example he came up with was Joe Louis, who took a shellacking against Max Schmeling the first time but a year later was world champion.

Anybody else out there have thoughts or names to offer?

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 12:40 p.m. ET -- Picking PacMan

Please keep those e-mails coming. I'll answer as many as I can.

Here's Nick Payton from Harrisburg, Pa., with a prediction:

"I feel that Miguel Cotto is drastically being underestimated in this fight. He is rugged and can box with the best of them. However, Pacquiao's speed and footwork will be too much for him. Yeah, Manny's hands are fast, but it's his movement that will really cause problems.

"I just think that Cotto's face is more susceptible to cuts after his recent wars and the sharp-shooting Pacquiao is going to carve him up. This very well could be a distance fight that is very competitive, but my gut tells me Manny stops him late."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 12:35 p.m. ET -- Morning media room

It's a quiet start to the day. I had coffee with some friends from MGM Mirage over at the Signature, the non-gaming property next to the MGM Grand where I'm staying.

I'm in a relatively empty media room. Bert Sugar is muttering and mumbling about something. The PR team is preparing for the day. One or two journalists are trickling in -- like me, heading straight for the coffee.

At 2 p.m. ET, the undercard fighters will hold a news conference, and about 3:30 p.m. ET, trainers Freddie Roach and Joe Santiago will host separate roundtables, so we'll have plenty of blogging opportunities.

Stay tuned and continue to e-mail me at kieranAKVegas@gmail.com.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 12:30 p.m. ET -- Speed versus power?

Jay LaFerriere writes from New Jersey to ask:

"The most talked about aspect of the fight (and his previous fights) is Manny Pacquiao's incredible speed -- and for good reason. But as a Pacquiao supporter, I'm worried about his ability to take multiple power punches from a bigger man over a whole fight. I mean, did Pacquiao get hit with anything of consequence that would prove his chin at a higher weight in any fight from David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya or in the Ricky Hatton fight?"

I think this is one of the key questions of the fight, Jay. Pacquiao has been blasting his way through opposition during his march through the weight classes, but has his opposition -- a relatively ordinary David Diaz, a shot Oscar De La Hoya and a made-for-Manny Ricky Hatton -- made him look better than he is? Miguel Cotto can crack, and Pacquiao has been buzzed by the likes of Oscar Larios.

PacMan's ability to take a welterweight punch will be one of the keys to this bout.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 11:10 a.m. ET -- Is Cotto the same?

One of the big questions going into Saturday's fight is whether the Miguel Cotto who enters the ring will be the same man who entered the ring to fight Antonio Margarito or whether that fight took a lot out of the Puerto Rican.

Naturally, Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, has some feelings about the matter.

"If you see [Cotto's] fights pre-Margarito or post-Margarito, I think he's a different fighter," Roach said. "When you're undefeated and you're a world champion and you're knocked out for the first time in your life, it's going to affect you. How long? Everyone's different.

"I think his first fight back, he looked real bad. Second fight, he gained a little confidence. Third fight, if we give him confidence, he'll grow. If we make him go the other way, it'll be in our favor."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 10:50 a.m. ET -- More from Freddie

Miguel Cotto has said on several occasions that he thinks Manny Pacquiao's speed advantages are overstated. Cotto refers to his victories over Zab Judah and Shane Mosley as evidence that he can deal perfectly well with opponents with fast hands.

Freddie Roach, of course, isn't buying it. "Manny's speed is so effective when he's coming or going," the trainer told me. "It's his footwork. He'll feint you out of his socks. He's a completely different fighter from those two fighters."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 10 a.m. ET -- What does Freddie see?

Trainer Freddie Roach won't give away the entire game plan for Manny Pacquiao, of course, but during a brief conversation Wednesday, he did reveal one thing he sees in Miguel Cotto that he hopes to exploit.

"Cotto does have some habits before he throws that left hook," Roach said. "He always cocks his fist like Hatton did a little bit before he throws it. Manny's quickness will beat that every time."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 4:55 p.m. ET -- Viva Puerto Rico!

Miguel Cotto closed the news conference in Spanish and English. "I trained a lot, I never trained so hard for a fight," he said. "We prepared our game plan; it's going to be a great fight, especially for Latin fans and the people of Puerto Rico."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 4:50 p.m. ET -- Mr. PacMan

Here's what Manny Pacquiao said from the podium. "This fight is the most important fight in my boxing career. If I win this fight, it's history for boxing and the Philippines, and it's a great honor for my country. I want to give the people enjoyment on that night. I respect Miguel Cotto's team. They are nice guys. They are friendly. The Filipino people are rooting for me, and I would like to do well for them. To all the people, I hope you watch the fight. It's going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 4:40 p.m. ET -- Diamonds are forever

WBC executive director Mauricio Sulaiman announced that the winner of the bout will be presented with a Diamond Belt. "It has 600 diamonds, so you can give 600 engagement rings," he joked. Manny Pacquiao jokingly snatched it and refused to give it back. Miguel Cotto looked coolly underwhelmed.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 4:35 p.m. ET -- And the award goes to ...

Another presentation, to Manny Pacquiao from the National Association of Filipino Americans, of a lifetime achievement award and a humanitarian award. Pacquiao is totally cleaning up in the News Conference Awards Sweepstakes.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 4:20 p.m. ET -- Double satisfaction

Mark Taffet of HBO said that not since 1999 has this sport had two fights in one year do more than 1 million buys. Mayweather-Marquez already did 1 million, and Taffet is feeling confident, as are others, that this bout will follow suit.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 4:10 p.m. ET -- Thank you, thank you very much

Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman just presented Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao with keys to the city of Las Vegas, thanking them for being great humanitarians and bringing their teams and supporters to town. "May the best man win," he said.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 3:50 p.m. ET -- And here we go

Nice buzz at the news conference, which is a few minutes from starting. Lots of interviews taking place, and yours truly just appeared on Philippine TV. Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman, a legendary figure here in Sun City, is in attendance.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 3:10 p.m. ET -- More on the PPV buys

Jay Cameron writes to take issue with Bob Arum:

"Kieran, all due respect to Arum, but please point out that the 800,000 pay-per-view buys for Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton were not all Manny [fans]. We have the whole UK to thank for that. Thanks."

Jay, Bob meant specifically North American buys and that Pacquiao was likely the principal driver of the buys for that fight in the United States. In the U.K., of course, the fight did exceptionally well because of Hatton's popularity over there.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 3:05 p.m. ET -- The Manny

Tim Spears writes to me from Missouri with a unique slant on the fight.

"What excites me most about the prospect of the PacMan becoming a breakthrough star? His potential to single-handedly popularize that creepy moustache he refuses to shave. Manny will do what Muhammad Ali was unable to do in his last years. Much like "The Rachel" in the '90s, 'The Manny' will sweep the nation, creating a conformity of lip spinach unlike any seen before. It will be epic."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET -- How big are the distractions?

Troy Medina, writing from Beijing by way of Manila, writes with a very perceptive comment:

"I was wondering what you make of the theory that Manny Pacquiao was 'distracted' during training, how the turmoil in his entourage reflects how 'chaotic' his preparations have been for the fight with Miguel Cotto.

"Do you think distractions will be a factor in the Cotto fight? I think people in the West are overreacting to the idea of chaos in poor countries. First of all, people from poor countries are used to dealing with chaos, and Pacquiao is no different.

"Second, there also seems to be this unspoken comparison made between Pacquiao and American celebrities who maintain huge entourages. An American entourage [is] like code for someone whose insecurity is greater than his talent. In poor countries, entourages are just part of the landscape, a rich man supporting a circle of less successful family members and friends."

Troy, thanks for writing. I had never thought about it in the cultural context before, but you are, I think, right on the money about too much being made of the chaos surrounding Pacquiao. There always seems to be chaos swirling around him, and it never seems to bother him at all. He always sits, calm and smiling, in the middle of the storm. If anything, he thrives on it.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. ET -- How many buys?

Promoter Bob Arum says he has "no idea" how many buys the Miguel Cotto-Manny Pacquiao pay-per-view will make, but he did make an educated guess.

"Pacquiao-[Ricky] Hatton did more than 800,000, and that was all Pacquiao," Arum said. "He's clearly bigger now than he was then. And Cotto, he should get at least 70,000 from the island of Puerto Rico, and then he is popular with the Puerto Rican community on the East Coast. So, you look at that and you think, It could well do something like 1.2 million. But I have no idea. That seems reasonable to say 1.2 million. But how many more, how many less, I don't know. I have no idea."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 2:20 p.m. ET -- An amazing moment

We asked Bob Arum whether, during his times working with Manny Pacquiao and visiting the Philippines, there was any one moment when he realized just how big Pacquiao is.

"Last Dec. 18 was his birthday, and they had this big birthday party," Arum said. "The president of the country was there, and they had thousands of people outside. [Trainer] Freddie [Roach] and I went there together, and they formed a phalanx [to let us in], and as they formed this phalanx, thousands of people started chanting both our names. Freddie and I looked at each other; we couldn't believe it."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 2:10 p.m. ET -- Arum on Pacquiao

We asked Bob Arum about the popularity of Manny Pacquiao and how it has built up throughout the years.

"He was loved in the Philippines ever since I became associated with him, but the frenzy builds as interest in him from the rest of the world builds," Arum said. "Having him on the cover of Time Magazine just blew their minds, because the only other Filipino to have their face on the cover of Time was [former president] Corazon Aquino, who just died and was beloved."

The real turning point, Arum said, was Pacquiao's fight with Oscar De La Hoya in December 2008.

"The theme going into that was that it was a total mismatch, and promoters should be ashamed for putting it on and it wouldn't be surprising if someone died in the ring," Arum said. "And he just humiliated the guy who was supposed to do that to him."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 2 p.m. ET -- Some words from Bob Arum

I'm sitting in the media room with a couple of journalists chatting with promoter Bob Arum.

You're looking well, one said.

Arum chuckled.

"Well, No. 1, I have nobody to argue with. There's no co-promoter," he said, laughing. "But seriously, these two fighters are such splendid people, and they're very cooperative. They've done everything I've asked them to do, and unlike other athletes I've encountered, they're not pains in the asses. Manny is never a problem; Miguel is never a problem."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 1 p.m. ET -- News conference

The final prefight news conference will be held at 4 p.m. ET. We'll bring you any updates and quotes as we can. Immediately afterward, I'll be shooting an HBO preview of the fight with my buddy Bert Sugar that should be entertaining. I'll post a link when it's up.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 12:10 p.m. ET -- As I said, this fight is big

Word is there will be at least 1,600 credentialed media for this fight. That's 500 more than showed for Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez a couple of months ago. This fight is big, people.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, noon ET -- Who's stronger?

Manny Pacquiao is, frankly, cute. He laughs, he smiles, he giggles; it's as if he's a little kid who beats people up. And he never likes to say anything bad about anybody.

I asked Pacquiao what he thought was the most dangerous thing about Miguel Cotto.

He smiled. "He believes he's stronger, he's bigger than me. …"

"You're laughing," I said. "You don't believe that, do you?"

"No, of course, I believe in myself," Pacquiao said. And then, as if worried he was sounding boastful, he shut down that topic of conversation. "I don't want to say anything before the fight," he said. "I want to see in the fight how it is true."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 11:25 a.m. ET -- Who's faster?

The consensus is that this is a matchup of Miguel Cotto's strength against Manny Pacquiao's speed. Cotto isn't necessarily buying it.

"People said the same about my fights with Zab Judah and Shane Mosley," Cotto said. "And when you watch the fights, their speed was not a big deal. I'm prepared for the speed of Manny. My hand speed is pretty equal to Manny's. Can Manny's power equal Miguel Cotto's on Saturday night?"

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 11:20 a.m. ET -- But on the other hand …

In contrast to reader Benjamin Gonzalez, fellow reader Chris Campbell says, and I quote, "Cotto is toast."

"I have to tell you, if you are expecting a close fight, you are kidding yourself. Cotto won't last longer than six rounds. It is sad what has happened to him. The catchweight stinks for him. He is on the slide, and his lack of trainer will hurt him. Cotto is not the caliber of Juan Manuel Marquez [who pushed Manny Pacquiao to the limit in two harrowing fights] and never has been. I also think its lame that Cotto's title is on the line when he can't even weigh [1]46 or [1]47 pounds. The WBO might as well hand Pacquiao its title. I feel bad for Cotto. He is being used and abused by Bob Arum."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 10:45 a.m. ET -- From the inbox

Reader Benjamin Gonzalez writes to predict a Miguel Cotto victory:

"Cotto can handle speed. (See fights with Zab Judah or Shane Mosley.) He can handle a southpaw. (Remember, he is a southpaw so he can switch punching hands with his stance.) He's been tested against Ricardo Torres and Joshua Clottey, and don't forget the Antonio Margarito fight. (Junito won more rounds overall and his speed was incredible, but that's a whole other story.)

If Cotto knocked Clottey down with a stiff jab in the first round of their fight in June, what makes us think that PacMan wouldn't go down if he got caught flush in the middle lunging forward?"

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 10:15 a.m. ET -- From the inbox

Some great e-mails coming in already. Many thanks to everyone, and please keep them coming. Here's one from Arthur Pielli:

"In your blog you state that The New York Times is sending a writer to cover the fight and that this is something that 'never happens.' To help put it in perspective, what was the last fight The New York Times sent a writer to cover? Keep up the great work!"

Arthur, the last time the Times sent somebody to cover a Las Vegas fight was Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather two-and-a-half years ago. I believe the last time before that was, erhm, quite some time before.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 9:45 a.m. ET -- Pacquiao 2, Cotto 0

I said Tuesday that Manny Pacquiao won the first battle by drawing a bigger welcoming crowd than Miguel Cotto. He also won the Unofficial Kieran Mulvaney Drinking Game Sweepstakes.

Pacquiao mentioned "the people," "I love the people," and "I want to make good fight for the people" six times by my count while we talked with him. Miguel Cotto referred to himself as Miguel Cotto only three times -- including the excellent twice-in-one-sentence example in the previous blog post.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 9:40 a.m. ET -- Training camp stories

Outsiders have asked questions about both fighters' training camps -- the constant chaos surrounding Manny Pacquiao, the inexperience of Miguel Cotto's head trainer, Joe Santiago -- but Cotto and Pacquiao both sounded very pleased with the work they had put in.

"This training camp was a very good training camp, because we went to high altitude, more than 12,000 [feet above sea level]," Pacquiao said. "It's hard to train there. I feel so comfortable when I go down to Manila and then Los Angeles. We spar 10 rounds, we spar 12 rounds. For me it's easy; my stamina is good."

"The training camp we had, that's going to make the difference," Cotto countered. "When you have good communication with all the members of your team, when you have an integrated team, when they talk about all their responsibilities in the team, when they put their efforts together to really make Miguel Cotto the best Miguel Cotto he can be, it makes a very comfortable training camp."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. ET -- Cotto not worried about Pacquiao's speed

After making their arrivals at the MGM Grand on Tuesday, Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto took turns talking with a few of us while sitting on the ring apron in the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Both were calm and confident -- Pacquiao happy and smiling, and Cotto serious and matter-of-fact as always.

"I am very calm," Cotto said. "It's normal. I have been doing this for many years. What else can happen?"

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 5 p.m. ET -- Moving on up

Walking into the MGM Grand Garden Arena, something seemed different somehow. It took a few seconds before I realized. Carpet. The arena floor is carpeted -- a first for a fight, as far as I can remember. We must be moving up in the world.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 4:55 p.m. ET -- The eye of the storm

Everything that surrounds Manny Pacquiao is chaos -- the entourage, the fans, the huge media interest -- but at the center of it, PacMan retains his happy calm. He was smiling and relaxed when he chatted with a couple of us after his arrival, sitting on the apron of the ring at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Miguel Cotto, too, is the picture of serenity, a quiet confidence borne of experience and self-belief.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 4:50 p.m. ET -- This one will be big

There are big fights, and there are big fights. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a big fight. Tickets sold out quite some time ago; as one MGM staff member told me earlier, "There are lot of people, um, negotiating prices for tickets, and that hasn't happened for a fight here for a long time."

One member of the PR team confidently predicted that all this attention would translate into more than a million pay-per-view buys. "I'd be shocked if it didn't," he said.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 4:45 p.m. ET -- Pacquiao wins the popularity contest

It's 1-0 to Manny Pacquiao so far. Not surprisingly, he had far more fans waiting for his arrival at the MGM Grand than Miguel Cotto. I guesstimated there were perhaps 1,000 Pacquiao fans and maybe more cheering in the MGM lobby. There weren't as many for Cotto, but it was still a pretty healthy turnout. Asked how he felt about Pacquiao's insane level of popularity, Cotto shrugged and smiled. "Everything he has, he has because he has earned," the Puerto Rican said. -- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 4:40 p.m. ET -- What a welcome

I know I'm a regular here now and all, but I was totally blown away by the reception when I arrived. I hopped into a cab at the airport, and we pulled up in front of the MGM Grand to be greeted by a huge, cheering throng.

Oh, and Manny Pacquiao came into the hotel just behind me.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 1 p.m. ET -- But don't forget Miguel

Even if Miguel Cotto isn't quite the personality of Manny Pacquiao, he has his own understated charisma. He has the calm, ice-cool mien of a true fighter. And make no mistake: He has a very real chance of emerging the victor on Saturday night. If he does, he fully turns the page on the suspicion-shrouded loss to Antonio Margarito last year and claims a place as one of boxing's true elite.

Truth be told: I am picking Pacquiao to win this fight, but I have vacillated almost every day and continue to do so. This is a real pick 'em fight.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 12:30 p.m. ET -- He's everywhere

There's no queston that Manny Pacquiao is poised to absolutely explode as a boxing megastar if he wins on Saturday. He was featured on the front page of the sports section of Sunday's New York Times (which never happens for a fighter). The New York Times is even covering this fight from ringside (which never happens). His face adorned the cover of the Asian edition of TIME magazine and all editions carried a five-page article inside. He was on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" the other day. And of course, he remains the most famous and popular person in the Philippines.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 10:40 a.m. ET -- Arrivals

Both fighters make their, ahem, grand arrivals at the MGM Grand this morning. Manny Pacquiao's people rather thoughtlessly failed to consult my travel advisers before working out their fight week schedule, and as a result Pacquiao will be entering the lobby around the time my wheels touch the tarmac in Las Vegas. (Well, not my wheels; technically they belong to US Airways). Still, if it's anything like the scene that met Manny at the Mandalay Bay prior to his fight earlier this year with Ricky Hatton, it'll be a crazy scene.

Miguel Cotto arrives afterward, at about 3:30 p.m. ET, and I expect to be able to have a sitdown with him afterward. I expect Miguel Cotto to say that Miguel Cotto is the best Miguel Cotto that Miguel Cotto can be and that Miguel Cotto is in great shape and that Miguel Cotto is very confident.

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. ET -- Tuesday, Tuesday

The bad part about this morning? Having to wake up at 6:30 a.m. ET (which I try to avoid doing) to catch a fight (which I also try to avoid doing).

The good part? The flight is taking me to Las Vegas for the biggest fight week of the year.

Yes, it's fight week, baby, and what a fight. Miguel Cotto against Manny Pacquiao -- nothing like ending the year (more or less) with the biggest fight of the year. I'll be here all week, so remember to tip the waitress and try the veal, and to send your e-mails to kieranAKVegas@gmail.com with thoughts, observations, knock-knock jokes, movie reviews, recipes and predictions.

-- Kieran Mulvaney