Monday, November 30, 2009

Pacquiao: imposing his will on boxing

Big things come in small packages. He got his start in boxing at 105lbs and has since risen through the divisions one by one, leaving a path of destruction in the process. Pacquiao is imposing his will on the entire boxing world. His greatness can't be denied, his speed and his power and now his two fisted arsenal has crushed many. Who's his next victim? Floyd Mayweather Jr? Maybe, maybe not. Now there are talks of a possible run at Yuri Foreman's 154lb title. Will Pacquiao rise yet one more division and grab the 154 lb title? Possibly.

What this man has done in boxing is simply incredible. Every time he takes on a new challenger, he shuts up his critics in shocking fashion. Everyone laughed at the notion of little Pacquiao taking on big man Oscar De La Hoya. They weren't laughing after the 2nd round of that fight. A lot of people were smirking at the notion that Pacquiao would go up in weight and take on Ricky Hatton. We all saw what happened to Ricky Hatton, and there were no more smirks. Well there were a few smirks on the Filipino side of the tracks. Miguel Cotto? Are you crazy? Manny Pacquiao take on Miguel Cotto? Yes indeed, and the result was the same. A battered and bruised Cotto running for his life for the entire second half of the fight.

Sometimes in life you just have to impose your will. People sometimes will just not accept something unless it is imposed on them. Pacquiao with his trainer Freddie Roach have systematically eradicated every opponent and weight division put in front of them. Together they have imposed their will on boxing, and there isn't a darn thing anyone can do about it.

It appears as if Pacquiao's final challenge will come by way of Floyd Mayweather Jr. Floyd, a much bigger opponent with a skill level in boxing that Pacquiao has yet to have faced, will more than likely provide him with his toughest test. On the flip side of the coin, Mayweather has never, ever, faced someone nearly as dangerous as Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather better take a good look at the victims that fill up Pacquiao's resume. There are some impressive names on it, and Mayweather's name has a spot at the bottom of the resume just waiting to get filled in.

Imposing his will in boxing is exactly what he has done. You want a piece of Manny Pacquiao Floyd? You better be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.

Pacquiao to Congress? Mayweather vs. the Other Hatton?

There seemed to be indications last week that the much anticipated Pacquiao/Mayweather super fight might be made without nearly as much sturm and drang as feared.

Not anymore. First we had reports of Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, expressing his doubts that the fight would happen next:

"Mayweather doesn't want to fight in March, so we might fight for the 154 pound title in March (against Yure Foreman) and move up for that eighth world title... And then Mayweather in September. If they guarantee that, then we'll do that, but we need more of a commitment from Mayweather because he's not negotiating too well."

Bernard Hopkins, a promoter for Golden Boy, which is handling Mayweather's negotiations, also indicated he thinks a Pacquiao/Foreman fight and a Mayweather/Mosley fight might happen before the big one arrives.

There is also the problem of a potential Pacquiao political campaign. Manny has long wanted to serve his country's government, in fact he lost a campaign several years ago. Now there are indications he might be taking it more seriously than ever. Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, has been told by Pacquiao that he intends to run for congress in the Philippines.

The election could push any chance of the fight back to the end of the year, or force Pacquiao to take a smaller fight, such as Yuri Foreman, in March, before the political contest.

Is all of this just gamesmanship? I think that's the most likely answer. Arum has thrown out the name Mathew Hatton, Ricky Hatton's journeyman brother, as a potential Floyd Mayweather opponent. Such a fight, against the weaker Hatton sibling, would send fans into fits of rage, and it's likely just meant to pressure Mayweather.

Bernard Hopkins' recommendation of a fight between Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather can be seen as a continuation of his long agitation on behalf of his friend, Shane Mosley.

Roach's comment about a potential fight between Pacquiao and newly crowned junior middleweight champion Yuri Foreman is likely an attempt to leverage Mayweather into certain concessions.

While many people fear Mayweather will find a way out of the fight, I've always disagreed. It's easy to predict what Floyd Mayweather will do; just follow the money. You may disapprove of his choices and lifestyle, but he is very consistent. He fights for the biggest check, and he can get that check from Pacquiao.

The one scenario I had not really anticipated was Pacquiao's political ambitions. While no one can accuse Pacquiao of fearing any fight, he simply doesn't seem to have the same fixed and outwardly rational value system Floyd Mayweather does. Pacquiao truly seems like he would give up a guaranteed forty million dollar payday for the chance to run for congress. He's just that type of guy. There is no telling what he might do.

I still think the fight will happen. The forces at work, especially the powers at HBO, have too much at stake for it not to.

But it won't be easy.

Floyd Mayweather Jr put on hold as Manny Pacquiao considers becoming eighth wonder

The contest that every boxing fan wants to see may have to wait because Manny Pacquiao is being groomed for an even more audacious challenge before he takes on his last great, unconquered rival, Floyd Mayweather Jr.

While the deal-makers work on Pacquiao-Mayweather, Freddie Roach, the Filipino’s trainer, has ambitions for his boxer to go up yet another weight and claim a world title at an eighth weight division. Roach, specifically, has his eyes on Yuri Foreman, the New York-based Israeli, who is the World Boxing Association light-middleweight champion.

Pacquiao won his first world title at flyweight, which is up to eight stone. If he moves up another weight he will be competing at 11 stone.

The 30-year-old was already breaking new ground when he beat Miguel Cotto, on November 14, to win a world title in a seventh different weight division. It was after that victory at welterweight that he said that he believed his ascent through the weights had come to a natural end. However, Roach clearly has other ideas — and Pacquiao tends to follow his advice.

“The Mayweather fight is the fight the world wants to see,” Roach said. “It’s going to be the biggest pay-per-view fight of all time. But I think we will fight one fight before that.”

Roach said that Pacquiao’s schedule will be constructed around his political ambitions and the elections in the Philippines on May 10. “But there is a March date for him to fight,” Roach said. “People think I am crazy but I want him to win his eighth title against Yuri Foreman at 154lb. That’s my idea — then fight Mayweather in September. And then retire.”

The way Roach sees it, there will be no further blemishes on Pacquiao’s record by the time he greets retirement, although he does concede that Mayweather will be “the hardest fight of his life”.

“Mayweather’s a very difficult fight for Manny,” he said. “It won’t be physically the hardest, but it will be the hardest fight of his life style-wise. Mayweather is talented and he’s good at defence. I have a very good game plan for him, but I’m sure a lot of other guys thought that along the way.

“We’ll have a ten-week training camp. We have to work on a lot of new moves, we have to improve in certain areas to win that fight.” And would he expect his man to win? “Oh yes. Without a doubt.”

This is, of course, a different view to that espoused by Mayweather after he had witnessed Pacquiao’s brutal demolition of Cotto. Mayweather described Pacquiao as “easy work, easy fight. I don’t see no versatility in Manny Pacquiao. I see just a fighter, you know, a good puncher, but just one dimension.”

It is not as if it would need Mayweather’s familiar bragging to sell this one, but he may have to bite his tongue for a while. If Roach gets his way, Pacquiao’s first stop is with Foreman, who was born in Belarus when it was still part of the Soviet Union.

The 29-year-old moved to Israel when he was 9 and is as serious about Judaism as he is about his boxing. Foreman boxes with the Star of David stitched on to his shorts and he is also an aspiring rabbi.

Promoter: Pacquiao will run for Congress, fight date hinges on opponent

Manny Pacquiao will indeed seek election as a member of Congress in the Philippines, his promoter said Monday, but tomorrow's deadline to learn if he'll run opposed or not is the key factor affecting the boxer's possible super-fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. next year.

"If he has to run against an opponent, then he'll have to start campaigning for the May 10 election on March 25," Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum told The Times. "If that's the case, then Mayweather would have to be willing to fight March 13."

Mayweather and many others, including Arum, however, would prefer if the bout could occur May 1. If Pacquiao runs unopposed, that can happen -- as long as financial negotiations can produce a deal.

"Obviously, we could use the extra month and a half to get ready for something like that," said Arum.

Arum said he's heard from representatives in the Philippines that one person is waffling on whether or not to oppose Pacquiao in the run for the congressional seat in the province of Sarangani.

"People are trying to talk the opponent out of it," Arum said. "I don't know how they're doing it, or who the person is. I'm over here [in Las Vegas] and getting stories from a dozen different people."

Politics at its finest.

Meanwhile, Arum said he received a phone call Monday from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Monday again expressing interest in hosting a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight in his massive Texas football stadium.

Arum declined to discuss how the Pacquiao-Mayweather financial negotiations have thus far progressed.

Paul Williams open to Pacquiao or Mayweather clash

With the first cracks in the foundation of a much anticipated bout between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather appearing today in the boxing media, another welterweight - of sorts - threw his hat into the Mayweather - Pacquiao derby last night.

During an appearance on The Boxing Truth Radio, Paul "The Punisher" Williams made it very clear that though his Saturday night fight with Sergio Martinez is at a weight of 160 pounds, he can 1) make the 147 pound limit to once again fight as a welterweight and 2) is open to fighting both Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.

With trainer Freddie Roach announcing today that Manny Pacquiao may go for an 8th meaningless title in an 8th convoluted division against Yuri Foreman - an idea which I floated the very night of Pacquiao's impressive lashing of Miguel Cotto - and reports of Pacquiao more interested in running for Congress in his native land than boxing, one of the most lucrative bouts in the last ten years has started to look more like pie in the sky than meat and potatoes.

Meanwhile, a man who vagabonds between 147 pounds and 160, with no true home and no big boxing names calling him outs, looks to keep his options open.

Will Floyd or Manny fight the 6'1" freak of nature from Aiken, South Carolina? Not likely, as Williams presents a challenge few could over come, much less men who originally patrolled the super featherweight division.

Remember, before Shane Mosley and the case of the plastered mitts, Williams tamed a once ferocious lion called Margarito.

Williams vs. Pacquiao, or Mayweather is the stuff of barber shop discussion from South Los Angeles to Harlem, New York - a useless but entertaining discussion in what could be, but it is nice to hear a modern boxer open to fighting anyone, anywhere and truly mean it.

"The Most Feared Man in Boxing" Complimentary of the "Pacman"

No financial road blocks to Pacquiao-Mayweather

Word is that the first meeting last week between Manny Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum and Floyd Mayweather representative Richard Schaefer was so good that "it was almost shocking," one anonymous boxing business source said.

Top Rank's Arum and Schaefer, who is CEO of Golden Boy Productions, have a strong relationship, and it was just the two of them who sat down for a face-to-face lunch with no attorneys present to hash out the numbers and take them back to the fighters. There's a gag order in effect until the negotiating process reaches its conclusion, but there were no major hangups regarding money for a fight Arum previously said could generate $80 million in revenue. The best indications are that a deal is very close with only some relatively small details remaining to be worked out.

The target date for the fight looks like May 1, but there's no indication yet of the site. Las Vegas casino owners have offered to construct a temporary stadium on the Strip, and Arum also has an offer from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to hold the welterweight title bout in the Cowboys' new stadium.

It should be noted this is just the beginning of a process. Mayweather has been known to make difficult demands in the past, and Pacquiao is back in the Philippines, where he works through his attorneys. No contracts have been drawn up yet and Arum and Schaefer are likely to meet again soon. But the simple fact that no major financial roadblocks came up in the first meeting is the best indication that the fight the public wants to see will get done. And soon.

Pavlik injury a sour note

For a sport that is supposed to be on the ropes, the news about Pacquiao-Mayweather plus a crowded calendar in December and January would seem to indicate the boxing business is thriving. The only disappointment is that WBC/WBO middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik's hand injury took him out of a planned meeting with Paul Williams Saturday in Atlantic City.

Williams' promoter Dan Goosen kept the Dec. 5 date on HBO and substituted Sergio Martinez for Pavlik. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, where Pavlik was treated for what has been described as a life-threatening staph infection on his right hand, at first indicated Pavlik would be ready for Williams. But when he couldn't make a fist a month ago, Pavlik dropped off the card.

Now, Pavlik is slotted into a pay-per-view card two weeks later on Dec. 19 against Miguel Espino. He still wants to fight Williams eventually, but now Martinez and Espino stand in the way.

Gamboa faces Mtagwa

On Thursday, a news conference has been scheduled to announce the return of Yuriorkis Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez to Madison Square Garden after their rousing doubleheader last month. Once again, they won't be facing each other.

After struggling to hang on at the end of a win over tough Tanzanian Rogers Mtagwa, Lopez asked to move up from 122 to 126, where he will meet WBO featherweight champion Steven Luevano. After Lopez said Gamboa should have to fight Mtagwa first before fighting him, the Cuban volunteered on the spot to put his WBA featherweight title on the line against Mtagwa, who fights out of Philadelphia. The show is scheduled for Jan. 23 at WaMu Theater at the Garden and will be televised live on HBO's "Boxing After Dark."

Matt Aguilar: Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. superfight belongs in Cowboys Stadium

With a pair of pay-per-view fights drawing more than a million buys in 2009, boxing is enjoying a spike in popularity that it hasn't seen since Mike Tyson ruled the heavyweight division 20 years ago.

The sport's resurgence can be traced directly to the star attractions of those two successful PPV events -- Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. And it won't be long now before "Pac-Man" and "Money" square off in a proposed May 1, 2010, showdown that is all but guaranteed to smash previous PPV records and perhaps usher in a new era in boxing.

This is an unprecedented time in boxing. It is on the precipice of becoming important again. And the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight will dictate whether it gets there.

So why not make it as big as it can be?

A statement

While Las Vegas will always be boxing's capital, Pacquiao-Mayweather requires a



grand stage if it hopes to catapult the sweet science back into the mainstream. And the new billion-dollar Dallas Cowboys Stadium is that grand stage.
Cowboys Stadium reportedly is a candidate to host Pacquiao-Mayweather, along with a proposed temporary 30,000 seat stadium on the Vegas Strip, the new Yankee Stadium, CitiField -- the new New York Mets stadium -- and the Superdome in New Orleans.

Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank already has said that Yankee Stadium and Mets Stadium are out for tax reasons. The Superdome is dated. And the temporary stadium proposal in Vegas fails to accommodate one major, undeniable possibility: rain.

The venue that makes the most sense is Cowboys Stadium.

It seats more than 100,000. It has the largest big-screen television on earth, making every seat in the house a good one. It has a retractable roof -- making the weather a non-factor. And it sits in Texas -- a state that is wildly passionate about its boxing.

Whether it's Oscar De La Hoya drawing 47,000 people to the Sun Bowl in El Paso or Julio Cesar Chavez and Pernell Whitaker drawing 65,000 to the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas supports major boxing events.

Arum is well aware of the Lone Star State's passionate, knowledgeable, predominantly Hispanic boxing fans. He saw it first hand with De La Hoya's appearance in the Sun Bowl. And with the Texas pay-per-view receipts that he counts.

Imagine the state's support of a monster event like Pacquiao-Mayweather.

If the point is to make this showdown the pugilistic equivalent of the World Series, NBA Finals and Super Bowl -- then it needs to be in Cowboys Stadium.

Only option

With the help of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the money making potential and hype for this fight would be unprecedented. The entities that have ignored boxing for years -- the television networks, the national magazines and newspapers, the corporate sponsors -- would be forced to pay attention and recognize boxing as a renewed force.

And while Pacquiao-Mayweather always could end up at the MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay, it simply would be another big fight weekend in Vegas. In Dallas, it would be something never before seen.

Now that's making a statement.

Meanwhile, Vegas wouldn't be threatened. It will always be "Fight Town." It even would benefit if Pacquiao-Mayweather achieved the expected success in Cowboys Stadium, as it would energize the entire sport.

They say everything is bigger in Texas. Wouldn't it make sense, then, to put perhaps the biggest, richest fight of all time in Texas?

If the sport really wanted to capitalize on the momentum, and re-establish itself as a force, this is its chance. If it really wanted to make a statement, then Cowboys Stadium is the only option.

The case for Floyd Mayweather's greatness

The ongoing argument by Floyd Mayweather's detractors is that the man cherry picks his opponents, and fights smaller guys. Floyd Mayweather Jr gets attacked from many angles, some of which are warranted attacks, and some that are not. The very fact that Floyd Mayweather Jr has defeated every opponent that has ever stepped into the ring with him cannot go unnoticed. It should be pointed out that Floyd began his boxing career at 130 pounds, and he has won world titles all the way up to the 154 pound weight class. In doing so, he has defeated each weight class's champion at the time. This is something that simply cannot be ignored. The climb from 130 to 154 and winning titles all the way up has to be recognized as a great achievement. Whoever the world champion was at the time of Floyd's arrival per that weight class isn't his fault. He just beat whoever it was, and moved on to the next one.

Floyd's talents in the ring are quickly dismissed by his detractors as well. They feel as if because Floyd has fought smaller guys that his talents as a fighter should not be given the recognition that they deserve. This writer begs to differ. Floyd, love him or hate him is a brilliant fighter who stamps the definition of the sweet science into his opponents heads. Hit and not get hit! Floyd's defense creates trouble for his opponents, he is difficult to get to. Floyd's defense is extremely good, he's difficult to hit flush. Floyd's speed should not be overlooked as well. Floyd's ability to time his opponents coming in is another of his gifts in the ring. Floyd's detractors attack him for not choosing to mix it up with his opponents, as if he's scared to do so. What? why in the world should Floyd Mayweather Jr choose to put himself into a situation where he can get hurt if he doesn't have to? Yes, he's a fighter but he's a smart fighter. Why wouldn't he use his talents in defense and timing to defeat his opponents? If you can "hit and not get hit" then by all means that's what any smart fighter should do if they had any sense. Floyd's talents in the ring provide him with the choice of how he wants to defeat his opponents. He usually chooses great defense, quickness, and timing. He is not an offensive minded fighter, say the likes of how Manny Pacquiao is. Pacquiao uses his speed and power to defeat his opponents. Mayweather uses his speed and his defense, and timing to defeat his. There is no wrong way or right way. It's whatever makes the most sense for each man and how they use their talents.

Any person that calls Floyd Mayweather Jr a coward is a fool. No man that laces up the gloves and literally puts his life on the line for a living is a coward. It's very easy for someone to sit back in their home on their couch and label someone. Floyd Mayweather Jr may have a degree of arrogance to him, and he's cocky, but he's no coward. True enough that if the Pacquiao vs Mayweather fight does come to fruition, he will have to fight the fight of his life to get past the little tornado from the Philippines. Pacquiao has improved with each fight, and is now a two handed nightmare. Floyd Mayweather will have to put to use every inch of his talents in order to win this fight. Love him or hate him, he's the only guy in boxing that has a chance of defeating the "Pacman" so with some luck, he'll get his chance soon.

Roger Mayweather knows deep inside, Floyd ain't ready for Pacquiao... yet

There's a reason why Roger Mayweather is Floyd's trainer and no longer his father Floyd Mayweather Sr. Both may be big talkers and superb ring corner men but when it comes to making sense, Roger is ahead of whom Mayweather haters call "The Predator".

Before Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s match against Juan Manuel Marquez, Floyd's uncle and trainer Roger Mayweather told the The Grand Rapids Press,

"I want to see a fight between Pacquiao and Cotto more (than at that time, Floyd's upcoming fight against Marquez) because I want to see what he (Pacquiao) can do. I want to see what he can do with a guy that can punch, who's a good puncher." and added,

"Why would he take a fight of that nature? That don't really make sense. To me it don't make sense, but Bob Arum, he obviously knows what he's doing. I guess if he beat Cotto then he'd prove one more thing- we all was wrong. But I don't think he'd beat Cotto."

And by facing the biggest challenges like Cotto, Uncle Roger couldn't resist but pay tribute to Pacquiao's guts saying "he got balls".

Love him or hate him, Roger Mayweather is a sensible guy. And perhaps after seeing what he wanted to see, and by his own admission being proved wrong once again by Pacquiao, he has now restarted camp with his nephew against an undisclosed opponent though, rumored to be staged in England.

He also admitted in the interview that an immediate fight between Floyd and Pacquiao should be the first order of business if Pacquiao beats Cotto. I guess by taking another tune-up, Roger kept his word because truth is, Pacquiao didn't beat Cotto, he destroyed him. So if indeed Team Mayweather decides to do a tune-up before lacing it up against boxing's best, then it only makes sense to assume that deep down, Roger knows his nephew will be ready to fight Pacquiao... just not now. There's plenty of work that needs to be done. Otherwise, one is inclined to wonder why the sudden change of heart when he said Floyd should fight Pacquiao right away if he beats Cotto.

The fight will indeed happen. Money makes too much sense for both men. But if you ask me when, I won't count on it being earlier than July. But then again, miracles do happen and Boxrec already enlists a March fight for Pacquiao against an unnamed opponent. We'll see. It's simply a matter of Floyd stepping up to the place really.

Pacquiao stamps class as global celebrity

MANILA, Philippines - No other Filipino athlete has been able to transcend national barriers to become a world-wide celebrity with Manny Pacquiao reaffirming his legacy as one of the all-time greats in boxing by capturing seven titles in seven weight divisions, an unprecedented feat in the fight game.

Proof of Pacquiao’s legendary status is Nike’s continuing campaign to generate media mileage from his heroics in the ring. Pacquiao has been a Nike endorser since Sept. 2006 and is on his second contract with the Beaverton Company that is acknowledged as “the world’s largest designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities.”

Last year, Pacquiao appeared in a global Nike TV ad with superstars Kobe Bryant, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Ronaldo and Liu Xiang. And last month, he was chosen to be a part of Nike’s “magnificent seven” cast pitching the AW77 hood sweatshirt. With Pacquiao in the elite lineup were Bryant, Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, LeBron James, Algerian hip-hop dancer Sofia Boutella and Brazilian football striker Alexandre Pato.

Pacquiao has also been featured in Nike shoots with Bryant, Sharapova and golfer Tiger Woods.

For a Filipino to be classified in the same category as Woods, Sharapova, Bryant, Federer, James and other high-profile Nike athletes is a tribute to Pacquiao’s ascendancy as a global sports hero.

In recognition of Pacquiao’s stature, Forbes Magazine recently listed the fighter among the world’s most influential athletes and ranked him No. 6 alongside James and golfer Phil Mickelson in gross earnings with $40 million. This year, Pacquiao was guaranteed $12 million for facing Ricky Hatton and $13 million for taking on Cotto. Additionally, he stood to earn at least $10 million more from his slice of the pay-per-view upside. The amount excluded his fees from endorsements, movies, concert appearances and other ancillary sources of income.

If Pacquiao battles Floyd Mayweather Jr. next year, he is expected to earn at least $40 million for what is tipped to be the highest pay-per-view grosser in history.

Pacquiao has been hailed as boxing’s savior in the betting industry. Los Angeles Times writer Lance Pugmire reported a few weeks ago that the economic downturn has reduced Las Vegas revenues from wagers by 10 percent since 2007 with Pacquiao making a major impact as a consistent draw.

“The Pacquiao-Cotto fight attracted lots of visitors,” wrote Pugmire. “And it was profitable for the sports books because they took a lot of proposition bets about when the fight would end. The over/under for the fight was 9.5 rounds; most bettors expected a shorter fight.”

The scuttlebutt was the odds on a 12th round knockout win by Pacquiao were 20-1, even higher than the 15-1 odds for a draw. That meant a $100 wager on Pacquiao scoring a 12th round knockout brought in $2,000 - not a bad payback.

Nike has made it a tradition to issue new Pacquiao T-shirts before every major fight and so far, the factory has produced over six limited edition versions, which are now highly sought-after as collectors’ items.

The latest T-shirt versions are destined to be best sellers - the Team Pacquiao eagle and the MP. They hit Nike stores before Pacquiao’s 12th round demolition of Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas last Nov. 14. Other Nike shirts display a jeepney under a “King of the Ring” tag and the slogan “Pacman Knows” with a caricature of the fighter’s popular Jack Russell terrier named Pacman.

In the Philippines, Nike said 20,000 new Pacquiao shirts were distributed - 9,000 of the eagle and 11,000 of the MP - just before the Cotto fight. Both shirts bore the Nike Pacquiao identity crest, an iconic symbol reflecting Nike’s “unwavering commitment towards supporting one of the greatest boxers of all time.”

Nike Philippines country marketing manager Mae Dicupha said, “We are very proud to support Manny in all his battles and feats - he embodies the good sportsmanship and athleticism that Nike athletes possess, we are committed to being a part of his battle - from his rigid training to the actual fight in the ring.”

The eagle shirt showcases a gold foil outline of the Philippine eagle head in the center front with a screenprint of an outlined eagle wing in the background. The MP shirt features the Nike swoosh on the front with the initials MP and a sun to the lower right, representing the Philippine flag. Both shirts are in different color schemes and retail for P1,095.

Aside from shirts, Nike has also produced three editions of Pacquiao trainer shoes. The first, called the Flywire Air Trainer 1, was issued before the Hatton fight last May and it came in red-and-gold. Then, to immortalize the win over Hatton, Nike released the “Lights Out” Air Trainer 1 edition last September. The shoe featured a glow-in-the-dark motif and cultural references, including a stylized sole showing a red boxing glove with the MP logo and swoosh.

The third Pacquiao shoe was brought out on the day of the Cotto bout. The MP Nike Trainer 1 Low was designed for versatility and retails for P5,995. A pair is in red-white-and-blue with a graphic inclusion of “Li’l Pacman” on the tongue top.

A huge Nike billboard was unveiled on top of the Montalban theatre in Hollywood last September with Pacquiao in a grey and teal blue sweatshirt endorsing the AW77 hood. He was later feted in a show called “Under The Hood” at the Nike theater with trainer Freddie Roach, assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez and conditioning coach Alex Ariza. The four were perched on high stools in the middle of the theater stage and answered questions from the packed audience to highlight the program. Pacquiao also sang a duet with singer Melissa R.

To cement his celebrity status more, Pacquiao was a guest on the TV show “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in Los Angeles - even before he set a new record by becoming the first fighter ever to win seven world titles in seven divisions.

Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather: Odds are 80 million to 1 that the fight happens

News hit the media this weekend that negotiations for the Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather fight have gone very well. Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum and Floyd Mayweather representative, Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer sat down together to try to iron out details for a Pacman-Money blockbuster.

Along with the purse for each fighter, the promoters have to find a venue for this megafight to take place. Word is that Dallas, Las Vegas and New York are the front runners.

New York would like the fight at the new Yankee Stadium. Experts believe the tax situation for that venue will keep New York from hosting the fight. Las Vegas would like to keep their name synonymous with big fights, but Dallas has the new Cowboys stadium and currently seems the best bet to get the event.

The real surprise is the lack of a surprise. That is that negotiations are going so well. The promoters think that the fight could have an $80 million purse attached to it. It would be hard to imagine either fighter turning down $40 million dollars.

The negotiations probably went this smoothly, Richard, "we're all going to be rich". Arum probably responded,"you mean we're going to be richer, see you on the press tour".

There is no way that this fight will not get done when you are talking about that kind of payday. It would seem that the only thing left up in the air would be the date. With Manny coming off of his big win against Miguel Cotto and Mayweather having beat Juan Manuel Marquez in September, it would appear a May date would be likely.

I have talked to people that don't follow boxing that have said that this is a fight they will buy. So will all the casual fans make this fight see $90 million or even, $100 million? The possibility would seem to be there for that to happen.

$80 million dollars. Man, I am in the wrong bussiness.

Do other fights need to happen before Mayweather vs. Pacquiao?

Fans are clamoring for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao to be announced and confirmed, but seemingly neither fighter is in a position to make the fight happen any time soon. This isn't to say that the fight wont happen at all, but it might be in the later part of 2010 rather than the Spring.

According to numerous rumors Mayweather is looking to fight again before the mega fight goes down. Perhaps out of wanting to stay fresh and perhaps simply to make a few extra million in the meantime.

The original date for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao was rumored to be May, although this date is now in doubt due to the fact that the Filipino elections being held on May 10th. It seems likely that Pacquiao, if he hopes to get elected and further his political aspirations, will need at least a few weeks around this time free to concentrate on campaigning rather than training. Of course training for the biggest fight of his career while being distracted by other things is a bad idea for any boxer, let alone one about to face someone as tricky as Floyd Mayweather.

The potential obstacles to the fight being made soon

(AP Photo)Manny's political timetable will seemingly put the fight off by at least a couple of months. Depending on whether he is elected or not, this could actually be either a lot longer or shorter. At the very least Pacquiao will need some time for campaigning without training every day, which obviously isn't possible if he has a fight scheduled. By the looks of things, the soonest Pacquiao could fight next would be late summer unless he decides to fight before the election, although this is doubtful.

(AP Photo)Floyd Mayweather is rumored to have another fight in the works for January. The front runners for his as yet to be named opponent include Ricky Hatton, Matthew Hatton and Shane Mosley, although nothing has been confirmed yet. There are also two other interested parties to the outcome of this one, Juan Manual Marquez and Amir Khan, who are both looking for fights with one of the involved parties. The upside of this would be that Mosley at least would probably give Mayweather a title to take to the fight with Pacquiao, unifying the major Welterweight titles.

Taking another fight before Manny would let Mayweather stay fresh and keep him from being too ring rusty. Although he hasn't shown it in the past, what with the elections this will probably be a long lay off for Pacquiao, which could well affect him come fight time. There are other options for Pacquiao at the same time however, Yuri Foreman has been mentioned as a possible opponent for Manny to knock over and get yet another title in a new weight class. Foreman is seen as the weakest of the Super welterweight champions though, and Manny would probably drop back down after beating him.

Given that Mayweather is seemingly planning to take a different fight before the Pacquiao fight in secret, many people have asserted that he is only talking to Top Rank to keep his name in the media while he sets up another fight and doesn't have any intention of taking on Manny. While I don't think this is necessarily true given that he would still have a good chance of winning not to mention the money he could make, this video is an interesting look at the nature of Boxing in general. It focuses on Mayweather, but in all likelihood could have been made for any fighter.

Opinion: Two Ways to Sell the Pacquiao-Mayweather Boxing Fight

The upcoming Pacquiao-Mayweather match is being promoted by via two contrasting ways in order to generate awareness and hype in what appears to be next year's biggest boxing event.
The promoters of the proposed Mayweather-Pacquiao boxing fight must have already agreed at this time to stage the highly anticipated fight between Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao and undefeated American boxer Floyd Mayweather in the early part of next year.
But on purpose, they have opted to hold on to the announcement in order to create hype for for the upcoming fight and subsequently gain publicity mileage. At the same time, the promoters started talking about fight purse, venue, weight limits and other minor issues related to the staging of the fight.
This is normal in any event promotions and publicity drives. Students of marketing will find out that all these publicity are necessary to promote a product so that consumers will be enticed to buy. In this case, they are selling a product or a brand known for instance as 'PacWeather' , a shortcut for Pacquiao-Mayweather. This is Marketing 101 and its a normal way to sell.
However, the proposed Pacquiao-Mayweather boxing match is being sold to boxing fans by means of two contrasting ways. W ether the promoters or the handlers are part of these contrasting efforts, boxing fans may either resent or appreciate the way the two camps present their product for the boxing fans to take.
The Mayweather camp opted to promote the fight via 'trash talk'. Even before the celebrated Pacquiao-Cotto match, Floyd Mayweather, Sr. thinks that Pacquiao was on enhancement drugs or steroids when he faced his opponents.
Here are some of the 'trash talks' that the elder Mayweather said:
"In my honest opinion, I believe that he's on some type of supplements," Floyd Sr. told Michigan's Grand Rapids Press. "I think they're pushing Pacquiao too much -- even if he's got [ste]'roids in his body."
"I don't think that he can beat Little Floyd with steroids in him or not. He don't have that kind of talent or that kind of skill -- whatever he has in him," said Floyd Sr., whose boxer Ricky Hatton was knocked out by Pacquiao in just two rounds.
“I felt that he was on steroids or some type of supplements or some type of enhancement drugs… believe me when I tell you, he's going to get caught,” said the controversial boxing trainer.
All these trash talks were proven to be just that - - 'trash talks' by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC).
“All I can tell you is that Pacquiao, every time he's fought here [in Nevada, has] been tested, as well as his opponents,” said NSAC executive director Keith Kaiser.
“He passed every drug test we did to him, every steroid test we did to him,” he added to counter allegations made by Mayweather Sr. that Pacquiao was into performance enhancement drugs.
The Pacquiao camp opted for a 'no trash talk' to promote the fight as he did during his last fights. The Pacquiao-Cotto fight held in Las Vegas last November 14 was considered a 'model match' by boxing fans for its 'civilized' way of promoting the fight.
Both boxers did not attack each others weaknesses or personal qualities and instead talked highly of each others strengths and good qualities as responsible boxers. Boxing fans certainly love the way the fight was promoted.
The Pacquiao-Cotto match generated more than 1 million pay-per-view buys and was considered the best and biggest fight of the year.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Las Vegas Needs Pacquiao and Mayweather to Keep Economy Alive

Las Vegas is reeling from the global economic downturn and is struggling to keep its local economy afloat. The upcoming Pacquiao-Mayweather match could keep the local economy alive as Las Vegas tries to keep next year's mega fight on the strip
Las Vegas has been hit harder by recession than most places in the west coast with a high unemployment rate of around 13 percent.
The popular gambling and entertainment city with around 150,000 hotel rooms is very much dependent on conventions and business conferences on top of its main attraction as the gambling city of the world. Most casinos are experiencing low patronage while hotels are half empty with dwindling occupancy rates.
With a sagging local economy, Las Vegas needs a major sports or entertainment event that will bring in people from across the globe to fill the empty rooms and halls of the hotels and casinos.
One of the major sports and entertainment events that is sure to bring tourists and visitors to Las Vegas is the upcoming boxing fight between Filipino boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao and America's undefeated professional boxer, Flod Mayweather, Jr.
Las Vegas business leaders must have realized the importance of keeping the fights of Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas. The popular Filipino boxer has brought in thousands of people across the globe to watch his fights in the entertainment and gambling city whose survival depends on the number of visitors who spends money on hotel accommodations, food, entertainment, among other things.
The Filipino boxing superstar has fought nine of his 12 fights in Las Vegas and every time he fights, the venue is filled to the rim by boxing fans coming from different parts of the world.
This realities must have driven some Las Vegas businessmen to capitalize on the popularity of the Filipino boxer. Keevin lole of Yahoo Sports reported that Sig Rogich, a powerful political consultant in Las Vegas is leading a group that is exploring the possibility of erecting a 30,000-seat outdoor stadium on a Las Vegas Boulevard site once occupied by the New Frontier Hotel.
Rogich, who worked in the George H.W. Bush administration, said Las Vegas officials are discussing a plan with El-Ad Properties, which purchased the New Frontier Hotel and the 36 acres of Strip-front property it sits on for $1.2 billion from Phil Ruffin in 2007, to have the site serve as the location for the lucrative fight. The plan would be to have the fight sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, with a consortium of Las Vegas casinos contributing money toward the cost, the report added.
Being a tourist destination, Las Vegas is suffering from low visitor arrival. Airline companies have made adjustments on their flight schedules to Las Vegas. US Airways has in fact announced last month that it was cutting its arrivals by half.
Casinos are losing. Sands, one of the oldest in Las Vegas lost $123 million for the quarter ending September 30 while MGM Mirage recorded a net loss of $750 million and Harrah's had more than $1 billion in accumulated loses.
In September, for the first time since May 2008, the number of visitors to Las Vegas went up year over year — 4.3 percent. But the average daily room rate was down nearly 25 percent, to just over $92 a night. Gambling revenue was down 3.6 percent, the 21st straight monthly decline, according to figures released last week by the city's convention authority, reports
With the negative outlook on the economy of Las Vegas, a Pacquiao-Mayweather match may just be what the sin city needs to jump start its local economy.

Inside Boxing: Suddenly, it's 'Money' who needs the big fight

Floyd "Money" Mayweather really has no choice now.

Prior to the Miguel Cotto-Manny Pacquiao fight, there was considerable doubt a Pacquiao-Mayweather showdown would ever happen. The modest Pacman felt, and still feels, no urgency to fight Mayweather simply because being No. 1 is not important to him. That would have allowed Mayweather the luxury of continuing his claim to the mythical pound-for-pound title without risking a loss to Pacquiao.

After all, did not Mayweather convincingly beat Juan Manuel Marquez, who had fought two wars with Pacquiao that could have gone either way? Plus there was still some doubt that Pacquiao could get past Cotto, a very good fighter who had already beaten some very good welterweights, including Shane Mosley.

But in the wake of Pacquiao's total annihilation of Cotto, it is a whole new ballgame. Ask 100 fight fans today who is the best pound-for-pound fighter and you'll get at least 99 votes for the Pacman.

Pacquiao didn't just pass the Cotto test, he knocked it (and Cotto) out of the ballpark. It started out as a competitive fight, but that lasted less then four rounds. Just when it looked like Cotto was coming on in the fourth, he was knocked down a second time by Pacquiao. The impact of that knockdown (after Cotto had landed his best shots without so much as a blink from Pacquiao) was written all over Cotto's face as he staggered to his feet, dazed and confused. This wasn't supposed to happen.

It was a mismatch from there on. His will broken, his confidence shattered, Cotto valiantly fought on but took a brutal beating before referee Kenny Bayless mercifully stopped the slaughter in the 12th.

The debate now is not about who is the best fighter on the planet, it's about where the Pacquiao stands among the all-time greats. He is being mentioned in the same breath as names like Armstrong, Robinson, Ali, Leonard ... that's not to say he's as good as those ring legends, but he's in that group.

Pacquiao insists he doesn't want to be compared with the great fighters of the past.

"I'm just doing my job, to give a good fight," he said. "My goal is to give happiness to all those who watch me."

"I'll compare him to those guys," said his trainer, Freddie Roach. "He is as good as any of them. He's the greatest fighter of his generation, that's for sure."

HBO commentator Larry Merchant probably summed it up best: "We knew going into the (Cotto) fight that Pacquiao was a great fighter, but he has exceeded our expectations yet again."

Like most great fighters, Pacquiao brings a unique style to the ring. He doesn't have the silky smoothness of a Robinson or Ali, who seemed to glide about the ring, their feet barely touching the canvas.

Pacquiao doesn't glide. He is perpetual motion, bouncing on the balls of his feet to a rhythm only he hears. Look at his legs and they seem almost out of proportion with the rest of his body. They are sturdy and muscular, not the spindly legs of so many small fighters. The footwork is important because it enables him to punch with power from seemingly impossible angles.

"I didn't know where the punches were coming from," said Cotto.

The punches come in incredibly swift combinations before he bounces out again to gauge the damage. The attacks are relentless, but measured, calculated, precise. He landed 43 percent of his punches overall against Cotto and 49 percent of his power shots, an extraordinarily high percentage.

Before the Cotto fight, Mayweather could still have made unrealistic demands on a Pacquiao-Mayweather megafight. He could have bided his time, waited for Pacquiao to retire or get lazy. The fight would have been on his terms. But that's all changed now.

Pacquiao is king and he doesn't need to fight Mayweather to prove it ... Mayweather now needs Pacquiao. A victory over the little Filipino is the only way Mayweather can regain the No. 1 spot and secure his niche in history among the all-time greats. And that's more important to Mayweather than it is for Pacquiao.

And that's why there will be a Pacquiao-Mayweather showdown, probably in May or June, what could be the richest single event in the history of sports.

Truly a fight for the ages.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pacquiao should be in hunt for Sportsman of the Year

Critical acclaim for Manny Pacquiao after his stoppage a couple of weeks ago of stubborn Miguel Cotto included a moment in the post-fight news conference that defined the Filipino’s ongoing emergence and pointed toward recognition that he has yet to achieve.

Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum called him “boxing’s Tiger Woods.’’

Yahoo columnist Kevin Iole offered an amendment, saying that Tiger Woods is “golf’s Manny Pacquiao.’’

From pillar-to-post, from tee-to-green, Arum and Iole are dead, solid, perfect. I only hope that Sports Illustrated and Associated Press were listening. With the Holidays already here, it is the season to think about end-of-year prizes. Pacquiao is a lock for Fighter of the Year. Who else?

But Pacquiao deserves more. I’ve seen some of the usual, perhaps predictable names – tennis star Roger Federer, LeBron James of the Cavaliers, Kobe Bryant of the Lakers and New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees – tossed around for the year-ending biggies, SI Sportsman and AP Male Athlete.

Unless I’ve missed it, however, there’s been no mention of Pacquiao for awards that rarely go to boxers. For AP, there have been four – Joe Louis in 1935, Ingemar Johannson in 1959, Muhammad Ali in 1974 and George Foreman in 1994. For Sports Illustrated, there have been three – Johannson in 1959, Ali in 1974 and Sugar Ray Leonard in 1981.

It’s hard to believe that the original Sugar, Ray Robinson, wasn’t a winner and hard to believe that Pacquiao isn’t at least a contender. Any ballot without him has been put together by a crowd that hasn’t been paying attention.

It’s not often that any athlete can single-handedly captivate a nation. But Pacquiao has. Federer, James, Bryant and Brees are all terrific athletes and ambassadors for their respective sports. But Pacquiao has become a reason to cheer, almost an island of hope, for Filipinos hit by typhoons in October and political violence during the last week.

I’ve heard a Pacquiao story that might be apocryphal, but it is worth repeating. Warring rebel and government troops call a cease fire when Pacquiao fights so they can watch and/or listen. After it’s over, they go back to war. If that’s even close to true, the Nobel people got the wrong guy when they picked President Barack Obama for their peace prize. It should have gone to Pacquiao.

What we do know for sure is that Pacquiao has begun to fascinate some unusual sources. There was Time magazine, which put him on the cover of its Asian edition before his 12th-round technical knockout of Cotto on Nov. 14. The Wall Street Journal mentioned him.

Even the New York Times is interested, although I’m not sure the newspaper would have been at ringside for Pacquiao-Cotto is if not for a letter from HBO’s Larry Merchant and a thorough story by Thomas Hauser, who detailed just how much it had abandoned boxing.

Whatever motivated The New York Times, it and other media are beginning to look at Pacquiao as though he was another emerging Asian market. What’s more, his brilliance against Cotto was a dramatic affirmation of skill and athleticism. He’s more than just a good story from a country that desperately needs one. He is a hell of an athlete.

Maybe Sports Illustrated and The Associated Press will figure that one out.

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao head to head against the UFC bad for both events?

The proposed bout between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather will clash with a UFC event if the two are both held on May 1st. That date has come under threat for Pacquiao recently, who might be held up by his running for political office.

If Pacquiao is forced to pick a different date, then the UFC will no doubt view it as a victory with their struggle for market share against boxing. Although many people tend to like one or the other, as Bob Arum so tastefully points out, there are a lot of crossover fans as well. The card itself is one of the bigger events of the year, although lacks the UFC's biggest draws such as Brock Lesnar, who brings a lot of attention because of his previous career as a professional wrestler.

If both events go off on the same date however, what kind of effect will they have on each other?

In the past, the UFC has achieved big pay per view numbers, although the frequency of their cards has meant a lot of watered down events as of late. A rash of injuries to current champions is also hampering their efforts at the moment, although by May this should be resolved and they should be back to full strength. In the past the UFC has switched pay per views that were up against major boxing cards to free events, securing larger audiences than they would have if they were charging for them.

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao represents a bigger challenge than most boxing cards though, given that it will undoubtedly be the biggest fight in years if everything goes off without a hitch. Whether the UFC will have a big impact with a pay per view seems unlikely, but a lot of casual fans will probably be swayed by the prospect of a free event rather than an expensive pay per view. The fact that most fights can be found for free online the following day is another factor which can tend to put a lot of fans off paying for something.

UFC 113 is one of the bigger UFC events (AP Photo)Looking back to past events for some kind of guide is difficult, because in the past both sports have tended to avoid direct competition on the same night.

UFC 103 did go up against Mayweather vs Marquez though, so this is a good place to start. This particular UFC event did about 400k buys compared to Mayweather doing slightly over 1 million, although the UFC was lacking its biggest draws on the card.

I imagine the UFC behind closed doors will abandon trying to compete with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, purely because of the interest that the fight will generate in the months leading up to it actually happening. When you couple this with the fact that many conventional news sources tend to ignore MMA even more than they do with boxing, and you have a recipe for disaster if they try to rely on pay per view buys for the event. A free show or change of date will be the most likely decision that the UFC is forced to make, with Mayweather vs Pacquiao perhaps even eclipsing previous records achieved by De La Hoya vs Mayweather.

HBO's Golden rule: Mayweather-Pacquiao, no substitutions

I want to beat the Christmas rush so let’s clean out the peripatetic boxing correspondent’s notebook while we also figure 49 more ways to consume the pavo (turkey)…

Vegas Examiner Chris Robinson showed his nose for news by catching up with Roger Mayeather.

But his report showed how out of touch Floyd Junior’s trainer, known as"Black Mamba" when he was fighting, really is.

This speculation about L’il Floyd fighting somebody, fighting anybody in England “in December” is so absurd.

If Abe shaves, can you tell me that he and Librado Andrade don't look like long lost brothers?

I mean, come on, is “Money May” going to take a four-rounder on a club show in Barking?

We’re at the tail end of November and I’m supposed to believe Mayweather has a December fight date but it’s top secret.

When will singer "Chili" lash out at Jinkee Pacquiao to show that she is standing by her man? (AP Photo)

I'm not saying Roger said this is so but I'm just saying he did not reject it out of hand...if you know what I'm saying.

HBO’s Ross Greenburg has been explicit in saying his company, the boxing paymaster, only wants to see Pacquiao against Mayweather and vice versa.

That mega bout will take place in May or June of 2010 and the venue will be Las Vegas. I will have more on why the gambling mecca is going to land the whopper shortly.

Joan Guzman, Ali Funeka square off on HBO Saturday night on the Andrade-Bute II title bout in Quebec, Canada

But neither Pacman nor Mayweather can fight anyone except each other.

HBO will accept no substitutions.

Who put the Jamba Juice in Jinkee Pacquiao’s orange juice so that she is making pronouncements about how confident she is that her hubby will beat Mayweather? Did Michael Koncz authorize her to speak out? If not, why not?...

Which reminds me, wouldn’t it be cute if she was married to Ronald Wright. Then you’d have a couple named Winky and Jinkee…

Any second now you will read how Ulli Wegner has become Mikkel Kessler’s new trainer in the wake of the humiliating loss to Andre Ward. Wegner, a solid guy, is the Sauerland house trainer. I will tell you who Kessler should hire and that is Emanuel Steward for a quick makeover…

Speaking of turkeys, Pseudo Ambassor Barry Gusi should make a public apology to Manny Pacquiao for his blast on the Pinoy Idol. I hope Gusi realizes that he is an ant who attacked an elephant and did so wrongfully…

I guess Gusi and his wife won’t make the guest list for Pacman’s GenSan Birthday Bash Dec. 17 after he turned into such a rude dude. I wonder why they couldn’t have had Manny tape a brief acceptance speech for the program in Manila. ..

Poor Andre Ward will get little consideration as “Fighter of the Year” because of Megamanny. And Coach Freddie Roach has, as per usual, the “Trainer of the Year” honors wrapped up. Amir Khan will beat Dmitriy Salita in the UK on Dec. 5 but, even if he doesn’t, Roach has already put in his major work with Manny over Hatton and Cotto…

Predictions Without the Aid of the All Knowing “Cougar Madam Auring: Sure, make your jokes about the outsized head of Librado Andrade, remark how those Dumbo ears make him look like a taxi flying down Seventh Avenue with the doors open. But the man has an iron chin and a decent punch. But I’m certain that Lucian Bute will be more clever, more careful in Saturday’s rematch in Quebec City. I’d be impressed if Bute can stop Andrade but that does not go along with being clever and careful, does it? So put it down Bute UD 12. Let me add, Andrade is my all time "looks like Abraham Lincoln" boxer...

Joan Guzman has a year’s worth of ring rust to shake off but, while his skills haven’t paid many bills the past couple of years, he’s head and shoulders above the taller Ali Funeka in talent. This one will go 12 also and Guzman will cross the border back to New York with a UD 12 also…


Manny Pacquiao remains the number one pound-for-pound boxer in the whole world after he successfully demolished Miguel Cotto in their Firepower encounter last week. In the latest Ring Magazine ratings, the most authoritative journal in boxing, Pacquiao is still number one as of November 22, 2009.

This is the 312th straight week that the Pacman has been rated among the top ten boxers in the world in any weight division by the Bible of Boxing. He still remains as The Ring junior welterweight champion since he knocked out Ricky Hatton.

But stalking at number two is the former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather, Jr. who recently made a comeback after a convincing win over Juan Manuel Marquez. Formerly, Mayweather was the top pound-for-pound boxer for several months before hanging his gloves. But the lure of money and fame made the undefeated boxer stage a successful comeback against the equally famous Marquez.

At No. 3 is Shane Mosley, the WBA welterweight champion. At No. 4 is Bernard Hopkins, at No.5 is Marquez, the WBO, WBA, and The Ring Lightweight champion. At No. 6 is Filipino champion Nonito Donaire, at No. 7 is Cotto, No. 8 is Celestino Caballero, the WBA and IBF junior featherweight champion, at No. 9 is Chad Dawson, and at No. 10 is Paul Williams.

There are no other big fights in sight that could equal the fame and fortune of the encounter of the two pound-for-pound kings. Pacquiao stole the limelight from Mayweather after he retired two years ago. And the “Pretty Boy” can’t afford to look at “The Pacman” sitting at the throne he used to sit and the crown he used to wear as the king of all weight divisions.

Now the boxing world would want to see the two kings collide to settle once and for all who the real ruler is. A mega buck fight of the two renowned boxers could break all existing pay-per-view records.

The undefeated Mayweather could not stand staying on the number two slot to a man who he thought was smaller and has collected three defeats compared to his unblemished pro career. But the boxing world has seen Pacquiao as a demigod who ruled his kingdom by defeating big names in the sport once dominated by heavyweights.

Pacquiao has contributed much to the shift of the enthusiasm of the boxing lovers from the heavyweight to the lighter divisions when the Mexican and other Latin stars dominate the featherweight to the welterweight divisions.

One by one Pacquiao knocked them out from Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Marquez, Emmanuel Lucero, Jorge Solis, Oscar Larios, and Hector Velasquez. After stopping Latin-American Oscar de la Hoya and David Diaz, British Ricky Hatton, and Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto, Pacquiao is going to face an African American for the first time in the flamboyant Mayweather.

Pacquiao-Mayweather Talks Progressing

Negotiations for the mega-bout between Floyd "Money" Mayweather and Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao have been ongoing, with Golden Boy promotions' Richard Schaefer and Top Rank's Bob Arum representing each of the fighters considered pound-for-pound boxing's best, according to a source close to the process.

Arum is on vacation in Aspen, Colorado, and Schaefer also is on vacation.

However, their talks are slated to continue "on Monday at the earliest, and nothing is going to move any needle until then," the source said.

HBO has proposed a date of May 1 for the fight, which has not yet been discussed with Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 knockouts).

Although several sites have been broached, the bout is a natural for Las Vegas, where Kevin Lole of Yahoo! Sports reports that construction of a 30,000-seat, outdoor stadium is being considered.

Pacquiao, 30, is coming off of a historic beat-down of Miguel Cotto (34-2, 27 KOs) on Nov. 14, a 12th-round knockout which earned him the WBO welterweight (147 pounds) title -- his record seventh crown in as many weight classes.

The 32-year-old Mayweather (40-0, 25 KOs) was last in the ring on Sept. 19, when he scored a lopsided, unanimous decision over Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez (50-5-1, 37 KOs).

Marquez has drawn with and lost to Pacquiao, whom Marquez still believes that he has twice beaten in disputed bouts. Mayweather was Fighter Of The Year in 2007, and Pacquiao Fighter Of The Year in 2008.

They are, without a doubt, boxing's two biggest draws.

"This fight is huge, and I don't know if the sky is the limit," said HBO sports programming head honcho, Ross Greenburg. "This is on the Super Bowl level, and it should be treated that way. We have to do it the right way and take it to another level."

Pacquiao-Cotto drew 1.25 million pay-per-view buys, the highest-performing boxing pay-per-view event in 2009, and "the biggest event of the year for pay-per-view from the standpoint of revenue generated," according to Arum.

Pacquiao-Cotto produced $70 million in pay-per-view revenue, a figure that included 650,000 purchases from cable homes, another 600,000 from satellite and telephone company services, and a record 110,000 from Cotto's native Puerto Rico alone.

Pacquiao-De La Hoya also generated 1.25 million buys, and Pacquiao-Hatton 830,000.

Mayweather-De La Hoya sold a record 2.4 million, Mayweather-Marquez, 1.05 million, and Mayweather-Hatton, 920,000.

In addition to Marquez, Mayweather and Pacquiao have two other notable common opponents in Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton -- each of whom they defeated in back-to-back contests.

In May and December of 2007, Mayweather earned a split-decision over De La Hoya, and stopped Hatton in the 10th round.

Then, in December 2008 and May 2009, Pacquiao stopped De La Hoya and Hatton in the eighth and second rounds, respectively.

Mayweather contends that his victories were more impressive over all three of their common opponents, and argues that he dominated Marquez who twice fought tooth-and-nail with Pacquiao.

Also, Mayweather believes that Hatton, who lost for the first time in 44 bouts against him, was not the same against Pacquiao after being stopped for the first time in his career.

In addition, Mayweather believes that Hatton, then trained by his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., was being transitioned from a brawling style to that of a boxing style, and, thus, a somewhat confused fighter who could not successfully execute his dad's gameplan.

De La Hoya, said Mayweather, fought him at a more natural weight of 154 pounds, while he "was a dead man" after struggling to make 145 pounds against Pacquiao.

De La Hoya told FanHouse that he agreed with Mayweather, saying, "I lost the fight" with Pacquiao before getting into the ring.

Pacquiao supporters say that the Filipino star was simply more impressive in his victories over De La Hoya and Hatton, and that Marquez -- who had not fought above 135 pounds before facing Mayweather -- was simply too small against Mayweather.

Since losing a unanimous decision to Erik Morales in March 2005, Pacquiao is 11-0, with eight knockouts, including four consecutive stoppages against David Diaz, De La Hoya, Hatton and Cotto.

That run includes having twice avenged the loss to Morales by 10th-, and, third-round knockouts, respectively, in January and November 2006, respectively.

Arum, who once promoted both De La Hoya and Mayweather, has called Pacquiao "the best fighter that I've ever seen -- and that includes Muhammad Ali, and Sugar Ray Leonard, and Marvin Hagler."

The name of Mayweather was chanted as the man desired as Pacquiao's next opponent by the crowd of more than 16,200 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas in the aftermath of Pacquiao's victory over Cotto.

But Mayweather insists that he has not heard Pacquiao personally call him out.

"They are all talking for him, but Manny Pacquiao has yet to say he wants to fight me. If he wants to fight me, all he has to do is step up to the plate," said Mayweather, in a statement issued by his media company.

"Manny Pacquiao is the fighter, and every time someone asks him if he wants to fight me, he says it is up to his promoter, or he's going to take a vacation, or whatever the answer is," said Mayweather.

"I have yet to hear him actually say, 'yes I want to fight Mayweather,'" said Mayweather. "We are the fighters, and if one fighter is talking about fighting another fighter, then they should just come out and say it."

As for Mayweather's assertion that Pacquaio has never called him out, scoured its files and found this quote published in April of 2009 -- nearly a month before Pacquiao stopped Hatton and prior to Mayweather's officially announcement of his return to the ring to face Marquez.

"I think [Mayweather] is going to fight again. He's not really retired," Pacquiao told Michael David Smith.

"For me, if I'm Floyd, I would fight a tune-up and then fight me," said Pacquiao. "That's for me, but I don't know what his plan is. He might want to fight me right away."

Pacquiao may not have come right out and said, "I want to fight Floyd Mayweather," but what he did say was pretty close -- wasn't it?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Breaking down the terms of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

The negotiations are ongoing between the representatives of Floyd Mayweather Jr (40-0) and Manny Pacquiao (50-3-2). Top Rank top man Bob Arum and Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer are keeping quiet about what is being discussed for the time being though, only saying that the talks are going well.

With this in mind, here are what some of the main points of the negotiations might be dealing with:


The venue in this case will probably either be Las Vegas or Texas, due to favorable tax laws. The location isn't of much consequence here to either fighter other than convenience and tax implications. Most countries have shown to have some degree of home town refereeing, although this tends to be for local fighters rather than based on nationality alone, and so won't affect the outcome of this one. The other issue facing some fighters is that a big climate change from where they live or train can make acclimating for the fight difficult. Again in this case though all of the most probable locations are warm enough that both fighters shouldn't be affected.

Purse Split

The purse negotiations might be the one sticking point to the negotiations for this fight to happen. Mayweather has said in the past that he wants more than 50% of the fight purse. By his logic this is because he is undefeated and has won 6 world titles. Pacquiao on the other hand has won 7 world titles, and at 7 weights as well. Mayweather was considered the pound for pound best, and Pacquiao is now the pound for pound best, so there is little to choose between them. More than likely both sides will eventually settle for a 50/50 split as suggested by Pacquiao's's trainer Freddie Roach.


There is a title at stake, but as we all know titles aren't what anyone is worried about. Given that the fight will be at a catch weight anyway, and that neither man will probably defend the title after the bout, titles aren't an issue. The main prize awaiting the victor of this fight is the title of undisputed pound for pound best fighter in the world. As it stands now, fans of either fighter can make a case for either man to hold the title, but the bout will prove conclusively which is the better given their comparable achievements.


Although the scheduling for both fighters seem to fit at the moment, there are rumors of Floyd Mayweather taking a fight in England before the mega fight happens. Both Hatton brothers have been rumored as opponents, although they both have other fights in the works as well. Matthew Hatton is eager for a rematch of his recent draw against Lovemore Ndou and Ricky Hatton is currently rumored to be in talks with Juan Manuel Marquez for his comeback. Interestingly May 1st, which is the date both parties are aiming for, is also the same night that a major UFC card is being held.

Pacquiao is seemingly planning to fight in May whether Mayweather is his opponent or not, so the time line fits with him either way. If Floyd takes a fight in England as is being rumored and gets injured or defeated, then that could well throw the whole bout into jeopardy. If Floyd were to be defeated, then interest in the bout would drop massively, costing all involved millions. Similarly if he gets knocked out, then he may well be medically suspended if the Pacquiao fight is only a few months later. Also given Pacquiao's plan to fight twice more before retiring, any delays might well stop the bout from happening given the limited time he has before his political interests will require his full time attention.


Mayweather has complained in the past of having not been able to choose his own gloves when dealing with other promoters. This shouldn't be an issue now that he has Golden Boy behind him, but small things like this will probably feature highly in the contract.

Pacquiao and team will definitely have strict stipulations on making weight, with Freddie Roach stating in the past that he will try to have a penalty of a million dollars for every pound Mayweather comes in over the agreed weight. There will also likely be a clause in the contract stating that if Mayweather comes in at over a certain amount, then the bout is immediately canceled. Roach said he wants this to be anything over 3 pounds, but this will be something to be debated between the teams.

Boxing Gives Thanks for Manny Pacquiao

Thanksgiving and Christmas came early for boxing this year. The November 14th mega-match between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto was the biggest and most important fight of 2009. Think of it as a holiday festival with Pacquiao in the role of Santa Claus. Or maybe Manny is better characterized as a non-stop Energizer Easter Bunny, whose fists exploded like Fourth of July fireworks and turned Cotto’s face into a gruesome Halloween mask.

Andrew M. Kaye writes, “Like royalty, the reign of a particular fighter can instantly evoke an era, reminding us of some of the values held by his generation, people, or nation.”

Pacquiao is the perfect symbol of the hopes and aspirations of the Filipino people.

The Philippines are mired in a culture of poverty and oppression. “Pacquiao,” Time Magazine observes, “has a myth of origin equal to that of any Greek or Roman hero.” He grew up amidst squalor that most Americans can’t begin to comprehend. At age twelve, he ran away from home to escape his abusive father. Thereafter, he survived by selling water and donuts on the streets and worked occasionally as a gardener’s assistant. Then he fell into boxing, living for two years in a tiny room adjacent to the workout area in a Manila gym. He fought for pennies under all manner of circumstances; then professionally for as little as two dollars a fight.

Now, Time Magazine proclaims, “In the Philippines, Pacquiao is a demigod.”

Pacquiao is dedicated to improving the spirits of his people. “There is bad news all the time in my country,” he says, explaining why Filipinos love him. “There is not enough food. We have typhoons. There is corruption in the government and too much crime. So many people are suffering and have no hope. Then I bring them good news and they are happy.”

Filipino journalist Granville Ampong speaks to Pacquiao’s mass appeal when he writes, “Pacquiao has been a saving grace for the government. The Philippines is in a state of political chaos and economic meltdown. There are many controversies around the current administration. The masses could have overthrown the government; but each time Manny fights, he calms the situation. When he enters the ring, a truce is declared between guerrillas and the national army and the crime rate all over the Philippines drops to zero.”

"To live in the Philippines is to live in a world of uncertainty and hardship,” notes Nick Giongco (one of that country’s foremost boxing writers). “Filipinos are dreamers. They like fantasy. And what is more of a fantasy than Manny Pacquiao?”

During the past year, Pacquiao has also become a standard-bearer for boxing. In recent decades, the powers that be have balkanized the sport, depriving the public of legitimate world champions. As a result, boxing has become more dependent than ever on “name” fighters.

Pacquiao fights with the look of a video-game action hero. He’s a remarkable blend of speed, power, endurance, determination, and (in recent years) ring smarts. He first came to the attention of boxing fans in the United States when he challenged Lehlohonolo Ledwaba for the IBF 122-pound crown in 2001. At the time, he was an unknown 22-year-old, who’d fought only in the Philippines, Thailand, and Japan.

Entering the ring on two week’s notice, Pacquiao lit up the screen and won every minute of every round against Ledwaba en route to a sixth-round stoppage. Since then, he has been on an extraordinary run.

Over the past year, each Pacquiao victory has been more remarkable than the one before. The snowball keeps getting bigger. At a promotional event in Manchester, England, to promote Pacquiao’s May 2, 2009, fight against hometown hero Ricky Hatton, Manny’s fans were so exuberant that Pacquiao was moved to comment, “I think Manchester is now Mannychester.”

Pacquiao’s November 14th encounter with Cotto shaped up as Manny’s toughest test to date. Miguel had amassed a 34-and-1 record with 27 knockouts. His sole loss was an eleventh-round stoppage at the hands of Antonio Margarito. Subsequent events led to the suspicion that Margarito’s handwraps had contained gauze sprinkled with plaster of Paris.

Cotto is respected but not adored in his native Puerto Rico. “I know that some people are happy with my accomplishments in boxing,” he said a week before the Pacquiao fight. “Others do not believe in me. I have to do my work whether the people believe in me or not. I am here for me, my family, and the people that want to follow Miguel Cotto.”

As for his place in Puerto Rican boxing history, Cotto declared, “I am going to be wherever the fans put me. I am never going to claim something that the people won’t give me. Wherever they are going to put Miguel Cotto, I am going to be happy.”

Prior to fighting Pacquiao, Cotto was no stranger to going in tough. The list of opponents he’d vanquished included Shane Mosley, Joshua Clottey, Zab Judah, Paulie Malignaggi, Carlos Quintana, and Randall Bailey. His loss to Margarito had been followed by two less-than-scintillating victories. But the assumption in boxing circles was that Miguel would have dominated Oscar De la Hoya and Ricky Hatton (Pacquiao’s most recent opponents) as thoroughly as Manny had.

Then there was the issue of weight. Pacquiao-Cotto would be fought at a catchweight of 145 pounds. On March 15, 2008, Pacquiao defended his super-featherweight crown at 129 pounds. Four weeks later, Cotto defended his WBA welterweight belt weighing 146. In other words, twenty months ago, there was a differential of three weight classes between the two men. Being the best fighter in the world pound-for-pound (an honor accorded to Pacquiao) doesn’t mean that a fighter can beat any opponent at any weight.

Breaking down the fight, most prognosticators began with the premise that Pacquiao was faster while Cotto was bigger and stronger. They further agreed that Miguel would be Manny’s toughest test to date. Pacquiao had beaten two great symbols (De la Hoya and Hatton) in his last two fights. Now he’d be facing a great fighter. Cotto had proved that he could deal with speed when he defeated Shane Mosley and Zab Judah. And Judah, like Pacquiao, was a southpaw.

“Everyone is so intrigued over Pacquiao and thinks that he wins big,” trainer Emanuel Steward posited. “I just don’t see it that way. Miguel is going to have to improve his defense; in particular, his defense [against punches] right up the middle. If he boxes and keeps his defense a little bit tighter and if he starts banging those hard left hooks to the body on the smaller guy, this could be a tough fight for Manny because Manny is not really a welterweight. I see it as almost a toss-up.”

Cotto radiated confidence. “His weaknesses are obvious to me,” Miguel said during a teleconference call. “He is coming from a lower weight division. If he thinks he is going to have the same power as Miguel Cotto, his thinking is very wrong. He’s a fast fighter. You know what? That’s why we prepare ourselves. We know he has speed and we are prepared to beat it. I am prepared for anything he can show me.”

Miguel, the media was told, was having his “best training camp ever.” Meanwhile, Team Pacquiao was reportedly in chaos.

Freddie Roach (Pacquiao’s trainer) would have preferred that Manny prepare for the fight at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles. But United States law dictated that Pacquiao’s tax bill would rise considerably if he spent more than three weeks training in America.

Initially, Roach wanted the early stages of training to take place in Mexico. “Toluca is the best option,” he maintained. “It’s private, quiet, not a vacation-type of area. The gym is owned by the government. It’s a very safe place. A federal marshal works there. He’d be with us the whole time, so security wouldn’t be a problem.”

But as of September 1st, the training site still hadn’t been agreed upon and Roach was having trouble contacting his charge. “My gut feeling,” he said, “is that we’ll end up in the Philippines. The thing is, there are a lot of distractions in the Philippines. One weekend, this governor will want to fly him here. The next weekend, another governor will want to fly him there. It’s a hassle.”

Eventually, Baguio (in the Philippines) was chosen as the camp site. Then that region of the country was hit by typhoons and there were reports that civil war had broken out within Team Pacquiao.

Roach, it was said, had been conspiratorially lodged in a separate hotel away from Pacquiao. Manny, according to some newspapers, was spending as much time helping typhoon victims as he was training for Cotto. Strength-and-conditioning coach Alex Ariza and Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz were engaged in a much-publicized feud that culminated in a physical confrontation.

“Koncz is so condescending, so passive-aggressive, and just doesn’t care if he’s being unreasonable,” Ariza told Time Magazine. “He crossed a line, and I bitch-slapped him."

Meanwhile, Roach was fearful that the long flight from the Philippines to Los Angeles (where Pacquiao would conclude training) would result in several days lost due to jet lag.

Pacquiao tried to keep things in perspective. During a teleconference call, he was asked about the problems inherent in training in an area that had been devastated by typhoons.

“It is very difficult for me,” Manny acknowledged. “But I have to focus on my fight because nobody can help me in the ring. I am not only fighting for me. I am also fighting for my country. It is my responsibility to focus on training.”

Then more typhoons threatened and the training camp was moved to Manila.

How did it all work out?

“Much better than I thought it would,” Roach reported. “It was very emotional in Baguio. We saw a lot of death and destruction. But when Manny walks into the gym, he leaves the distractions behind. We had to run inside with the treadmill because the rain was so heavy, but it didn’t effect our preparation. We worked right through it. We had good sparring partners. We didn’t miss a day. The first month was the best first month of training I’ve had with Manny. He was in great shape. I’d go back to Baguio with Manny in a minute. We had a great four weeks there.”

And Manila?

“The five days in Manila sucked,” Roach said. “Everyone wanted a piece of Manny. Filipino politicians, governors, mayors, councilmen; all dragging him every which way. The American Embassy, entertainers, you name it. Too many distractions; too many people in the gym. Manny’s mind was all over the place. His focus wasn’t there.”

Then Pacquiao journeyed to Los Angeles for the final days of training, and what passes for normalcy within Team Pacquiao reigned.

“Manny trains hard for every fight,” Freddie said afterward. “If he was fighting me, he’d train hard and be in perfect shape. He sees that as his responsibility to his country and himself, and he’s right.”

On paper, Pacquiao and Cotto were fighting for Miguel’s WBO welterweight crown. In theory, that offered Manny the opportunity to win a world championship in the seventh weight division of his career. But given the multiplicity of belts in boxing today, that was of secondary importance. The real prize was Pacquiao’s pound-for-pound title.

There was a buzz in the media center at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino during fight week. Pacquiao-Cotto wasn’t a manufactured event. It was a legitimate super-fight, and the promotion had caught fire.

Time Magazine ran a five-page feature article on Pacquiao in its United States edition and placed him on the cover of its Asian counterpart. The New York Times (which has largely ignored boxing in recent years) ran daily stories on the fight. Pulling out all the stops, Top Rank (which was promoting the bout) spent US$150,000 to rent a 21-foot-high cylindrical LED video screen that was suspended above the ring and was evocative of a rock concert. Google and Twitter reported record numbers for Pacquiao traffic. The fight was completely sold out.

“Not one ticket left," Top Rank CEO Bob Arum chortled. “We got a list of one hundred names of people that want tickets, and we don’t have any. It’s not my problem. Everybody had an opportunity to buy tickets. The peopled that snoozed lose’d."

Arum was in his glory. His run as Pacquiao’s promoter began with Manny’s first fight against Juan Manuel Marquez in 2004 and has been highlighted by two bouts against Marquez, Pacquiao’s second fight against Marco Antonio Barrera, three fights against Erik Morales, and one fight each against Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton.

Arum is also Cotto’s promoter. “One reason this promotion has gone so well,” he noted, “is that I have no co-promoter to argue with and give me tsuris.” But for the first time in his ring career, Miguel was the “B-side” in a promotion. Fight week was The Manny Pacquiao Show.

“Fights like De La Hoya-Trinidad and De La Hoya-Mayweather were big,” Arum proclaimed. “But they were boxing stories, and boxing people live in a very insular world that’s all about HBO, Showtime, and the boxing websites. This fight has created interest in non-traditional ways. There’s Time Magazine, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal. People who know nothing about boxing have heard about Manny Pacquiao and are becoming interested in him.”

“Manny has gotten bigger since he fought De La Hoya and Hatton,” Arum continued. “Neither of those fights had this kind of feeling. The interest in this fight is global. Oscar was charming and good-looking and a very good fighter, but Manny is something more. Globally, Manny is now bigger than Oscar ever was. And Manny is going to get bigger and bigger because the world has changed. The stars no longer have to come from America.”

At the center of it all, Pacquiao seemed to glide effortlessly through the storm of attention.

Despite an unspeakably hard childhood, Manny looks younger than his thirty-one years. Women describe him as “adorable.” There’s a gentle childlike quality about him, much like a young tiger cub. He’s partial to casual clothes, has a ready smile, and laughs easily. Left to his own devices, he text messages constantly on two cell phones that he carries with him. Reflecting on the fame that has overtaken him, he says, “It’s a big change in my life. That’s for sure.”

Fame like Pacquiao’s can eat a person alive (think Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson). To survive, either a person sets rigid boundaries in the manner of Tiger Woods or gives himself to the public like Muhammad Ali.

Pacquiao immerses himself in his celebrity status the way a fish takes to water. He might wonder sometimes, “What’s going on here? What’s this all about?” But he’s loves being Manny and is enjoying the ride. He understood early on the value of speaking English and has learned it well. He acts and speaks without media advisors telling him what to do and say. He loves the big stage. He makes movies. He sings.

“There’s no spotlight that’s too bright for Manny,” says Freddie Roach. “He likes being famous and he handles it well. He’s got class and a great way about him. He brightens every room he enters.”

Meanwhile, Roach has been on a remarkable ride of his own. Like Pacquiao, he’s one of boxing’s feel-good stories.

As a young man, Freddie had a promising ring career that began with 26 victories in 27 fights. Then the opposition got tougher and he got older. By the end, he was an opponent, losing four bouts in a row to fighters with a composite record of 81-2-2. He closed the active-fighter portion of his life with a 39-and-13 career mark. Then Parkinson’s syndrome struck.

Roach is now one of the best-liked and most respected trainers in boxing. He’ll be fifty years old in March. Despite his physical condition, he’s constantly in the ring with Pacquiao and other fighters, working the pads and otherwise engaged. His workload would exhaust a younger healthy well-conditioned man.

Freddie has a self-deprecating sense of humor. At the start of a satellite TV interview two days before Pacquiao-Cotto, a sound technician asked him to count to ten for a microphone check.

Roach dutifully complied: “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.” Then he added, “Didn’t think I could do that, did you?”

“I get more anxious as a trainer than I ever did as a fighter,” Freddie acknowledges. “When I’m lying in bed at night before a fight, I go through things over and over again in my mind. I do it for hours. And finally, when I’m satisfied that I’ve covered all the bases, I fall asleep.”

Pacquiao is Roach’s monument. Freddie never achieved greatness as a fighter. But as a trainer, he has reached glorious heights. Skyhorse Books (a division of Simon & Schuster) has contracted for his autobiography to be written with journalist Peter Nelson. Time Magazine calls him “the most popular foreigner in the Philippines.”

“Training a fighter like Manny is what a guy like me lives for,” Roach says. “As far as the attention is concerned; I’m like Manny. I enjoy it. It’s nice to be recognized for what you do, and it’s not that hard to smile and be nice to people. If I can make someone happy by taking a picture with them or signing my name, I do it.”

Three days before the fight, Roach supervised Pacquiao’s final intensive workout at the IBA gym in Las Vegas. The early odds had favored Manny at slightly better than 2-to-1. Now they were 3-to-1 and would settle on fight night at 5-to-2, despite the insider view that Pacquiao should be only a slight favorite.

Manny never trash-talks. In the days leading up to the bout, he spoke respectfully of his opponent, telling the media, “Cotto is a bigger guy and a hard puncher and strong. He has a good left hook and a good uppercut. He is a good fighter and a champion. For this fight, it is a challenge.”

Early in the promotion, Roach had predicted that Pacquiao-Cotto would be “the toughest fight of Manny’s life.”

“This guy beat Shane Mosley, a speed guy,” Freddie explained. “He knows how to nullify speed. Cotto is better than Oscar De La Hoya, better than Ricky Hatton. He’s the biggest, strongest guy we’ve ever fought. To beat Manny, you have to slow him down. Cotto knows how to do that with body shots. And low blows. I’m a little concerned about the fact that, when Cotto gets hurt, he goes to low blows. I try to teach fighters, ‘If the other guy hits you low, hit him back low.’ But Manny won’t do it.”

However, as the fight approached, Roach seemed increasingly less troubled. Among the thoughts he offered were:

* “I’m not worried about Cotto’s size. Size and brute strength might win a weight-lifting contest, but they don’t win fights. Boxing ability wins fights, and Manny is a better boxer than Cotto. Hatton was bigger and stronger than Manny until the fight started. So was Oscar.”

* “We’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re adjusting to the styles of our opponents. We study them and we find their habits and adjust to them. I don’t look for mistakes. Every fighter makes mistakes, and you don’t know when they’ll come. I look for habits. I’ve seen all the tapes on Cotto. The idea is to not get hit with the hook. Cotto cocks his left hand before he throws it, so it shouldn’t be that hard for Manny to take it away from him. And Cotto makes certain adjustments when he fights a southpaw, which is something we’ll deal with.”

* “Working the mitts with Manny at this weight; he’s punching so much harder than he ever has. He’s used to the extra weight now and has learned how to use it to his advantage, especially on the inside. I’ve never seen Manny better than he is now. He’s punching harder than I’ve ever seen him. He’s as fast as I’ve ever seen him. Cotto has never fought a guy with speed like Manny. That’s where he’s going to have trouble; with Manny’s speed. I don’t think he can handle it.”

* “I’m very confident in my guy. Manny is one hundred percent ready for this fight and he knows exactly how to win this fight. It’s like a choreographed dance. Manny knows what Cotto will do, and he knows how he’ll respond to it. We have a Plan A and a Plan B. I don’t think we’ll need a C.”

* I don’t think Cotto has enough. He’s hittable; and people that Manny can hit, he knocks out. I feel like Manny, with the power he’s punching with right now at this weight; he’s going to knock Cotto out. I think I have the greatest fighter in the world today, and I think we’ll prove that again with Cotto.”

In the IBA gym, Roach worked with his fighter for close to an hour. During a break, he observed, “Sometimes, when I’m working the pads with Manny, I ask myself, ‘What would I do if I was fighting this guy?’ Let’s be realistic. What could I do if I was fighting Manny?”

Then the conversation turned to the issue of weight. There’s a school of thought that the division Pacquiao is fighting in now is more appropriate for him than the lower weight classes that he competed in for years. He was undernourished as a child, eating mostly rice until the age of sixteen. Then he suffered through another decade of having to make weight. Now (the theory goes), for the first time, Manny is eating what he should be eating.

“I’m not a nutritionist, so I can’t answer that,” Roach said. “I think that Manny’s best fighting weight is probably 140, but the biggest fights are at 147. What I do know is that, when Manny had to make weight at 126 or 130, he was unhappy all the time. Now he can eat the week of a fight. He can eat on the morning of the weigh-in. The whole time leading up to the fight, he’s in a much better frame of mind.”

Then there were the intangibles.

“It’s what you can’t see that’s inside a fighter that makes the difference,” Freddie offered. “Manny has all the right things inside. One of the questions I have about Cotto is, ‘What did the loss to Margarito take out of him?’ I was 26-and-1 when I got knocked out for the first time, and I never believed in myself quite the same way again. Cotto can tell himself that the reason he got beat up by Margarito was the gloves. But whether he believes that in his heart is something else. I don’t think Cotto is the same fighter he was before Margarito. His first fight back [against Michael Jennings], he wasn’t that good. And I wasn’t impressed with Cotto against [Joshua] Clottey either. Cotto is slower now than he used to be. I don’t think he has the confidence he once had. Manny is better now than ever and he feels like he’s fighting with a hundred million Filipinos behind him. Nothing is certain in boxing, but I’m as certain as I can be that Manny will beat Cotto.”

The fighters weighed in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena at 3:00 PM on Friday. Fans started lining up at 5:45 AM. At one o’clock, fire marshals closed off access to the arena because the six thousand seats available to the public were filled to capacity.

Cotto tipped the scales at the contract weight of 145 pounds; Pacquiao at 144. Spirits were high. There was partisan cheering. The only thing missing was the Ricky Hatton Band.

One discordant note accompanied the proceedings. Earlier this year, Cotto split with his uncle, who had trained him throughout his career. Evangelista Cotto’s replacement, Joe Santiago (formerly a Cotto camp assistant), was training Miguel for only the second time.

Initially, Santiago and Roach were respectful of one another. “I have a lot of respect for what Freddie Roach has done,” Joe said early in the promotion. “But he won’t be able to fight for Pacquiao. It’s the fighters that are going to do the fighting.”

Then people started questioning whether Santiago was qualified to train a fighter at the elite level. Joe got huffy and made a few intemperate remarks about Freddie that led Roach to respond, “He’s never fought in his life and he has no idea what it’s like being in the ring. He’s got a towel on his shoulder and gives water and all of a sudden he’s a coach. Cotto trains himself.”

One issue prior to the fight was whether Cotto would have trouble getting down to 145 pounds. At the weigh-in, as the scale registered Miguel’s weight, Santiago turned to Roach and said, “145, asshole.”

“He’s supposed to weigh 145,” Roach countered. “And if you call me ‘asshole’ again, I’ll punch you in the face.”

The trash-talking escalated from there until cooler heads prevailed.

On fight night, Roach was the first member of Team Pacquiao to arrive at the arena. He entered dressing room #3 at 5:30 PM and emptied his bag of the tools he’d need in the hours ahead.

Pacquiao was due at 6:00 PM. Word came by cell phone that his van was stuck in traffic.

“I’m not worried,” Roach said. “The earliest we’ll walk is eight o’clock. HBO likes the fighters here two hours early, but I can get Manny ready in an hour. And whatever happens, they’re not starting the fight without him.”

Pacquiao arrived at 6:40 PM, accompanied by an entourage far larger than Roach or the Nevada State Athletic Commission would have liked. He went into the toilet area to give a pre-fight urine sample to a commission inspector. Then he returned to the main room, took off his shoes and socks, and began putting band-aids on his toes to protect them from blisters. When that chore was done, he stood up, intoned, “Ladies and gentleman; from the Philippines . . .” and threw several punches in Roach’s direction.

At seven o’clock, NSAC inspector Jack Lazzarotto began the process of clearing unauthorized personnel from the room, winnowing the number from thirty to twenty.

Over the next twenty-five minutes, Pacquiao wrapped his own hands, singing softly to himself as he worked.

Several of Manny’s friends who had balked at the earlier removal order were escorted to the door.

Pacquiao did some stretching exercises and shadow boxed for fifteen seconds. He had the look of a boy who was warming up for a youth soccer game.

At 7:45, referee Kenny Bayless entered and gave Manny his pre-fight instructions. After Bayless left, there were more stretching exercises and a brief prayer.

The number of people in the room had risen again due to the presence of several entourage members who had hidden in the shower area during the earlier sweeps. This time, with help from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the room was cleared for real.

At 8:10, assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez gloved Pacquiao up. There was an almost-casual feeling in the air. Manny had the calm demeanor of a man who felt fully protected against the storm to come.

At 8:20, Pacquiao began hitting the pads with Roach; his first real exercise of the night. World class fighters have a snap to their punches. The crack of leather against leather sounds like an explosion. There was intensity in Manny’s eyes.

Roach gave running instructions in a soft voice.

Crack! Pop!

Blazing speed.

HBO production coordinator Tami Cotel entered the room. “Ten minutes, guys,” she said.

The padwork ended at 8:30. “You’re ready to go,” Roach told his fighter.

On a large television monitor at the far end of the room, Miguel Cotto could be seen in real time throwing left hooks toward the body of his trainer.

“That’s what he does,” Roach reminded Pacquiao. “He cocks the left when he goes up top and opens himself up when he reaches with the hook to the body. Either way; you nail him with a counter-right.”

Manny sat on a chair. He looked happy and serene.

No one spoke.

Then it was time.

Pacquiao stood up and turned toward Peter Nelson, who’d been granted access to the dressing room because of his work with Roach on the trainer’s autobiography.

“Do you have a good story?” Manny asked.

Nelson looked startled that his book would be of concern to Pacquiao at this moment.

“Yes,” he answered after a moment’s pause.

Each time a fighter steps in the ring, he has to prove himself all over again. Against Cotto, Pacquiao did just that.

The first round belonged to Miguel. He neutralized Manny’s speed with his jab and fought a smart measured three minutes. Pacquiao turned the tables in the second stanza, getting off first and giving every indication of relishing a fire-fight.

The pendulum swung several times in round three, most of which was controlled by Cotto. He landed several hard shots and seemed the stronger of the two men. Manny took the punches well and scored a knockdown with a sharp right hook of his own. But because Miguel didn’t seem hurt and was superior for the rest of the round, two of the three judges appropriately scored it 10-9 in Manny’s favor instead of 10-8 (which a knockdown usually warrants).

Round four belonged to Pacquiao. He decked Cotto again; this time with a hard left-uppercut that hurt Miguel.

Round five was close. All three judges gave it to Pacquiao. But many observers (including this writer and HBO’s Harold Lederman) thought that it belonged to Cotto.

At this point, as predicted, Pacquiao was the faster of the two men, but Cotto looked to be physically stronger. Certainly, Miguel was competitive.

“I was a little concerned,” Roach admitted afterward. “Cotto looked pretty good. And for a while, Manny was fighting Cotto‘s fight. He was laying on the ropes, and Miguel caught him with some punches that got his attention.”

Then, in round six, Pacquiao turned a great fight into a great performance. The “smaller” man started digging to the body and scoring up top, staggering Cotto twice. By the end of the round, Miguel was badly cut on the left eyelid and Manny was dominating the action.

From that point on, Pacquiao beat Cotto up. The second half of the bout saw Miguel in full retreat, back-pedalling and circling away in an effort to get to the end of the fight with as little additional damage and pain as possible. He looked like a man who was trying to escape from a spinning airplane propeller. Manny relentlessly pursued him and, when Cotto landed, simply walked through the punches.

“When Cotto started backing up, I knew it was over,” Roach said afterward. “His corner should have stopped the fight three rounds before it ended. All that happened after Miguel started running was that he took a beating.”

Cotto himself later acknowledged, “I didn’t know from where the punches come. I couldn’t protect myself. After round seven, I tell Joe [Santiago] to stop the fight, but I think better and I prefer to fight.”

Roach was right. Santiago should have stopped it. As the fight progressed, Cotto’s face became more and more disfigured. He was bleeding from the nose and mouth. His lips were horribly swollen.

One could make a strong case that round nine was 10-8 in Pacquiao’s favor even though there was no knockdown. Rounds ten and eleven were more of the same. Meanwhile, Manny wasn’t playing it safe. Great fighters have the ability to finish strong and close the show. He was going for the kill.

Fifty-five seconds into round twelve, Bayless did what Cotto’s corner should have done earlier. He mercifully stopped the slaughter.

The entourage was waiting when Pacquiao returned to his dressing room after the fight. After embracing several friends, he began to sing:

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains;

You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;

I am strong when I am on your shoulders;

You raise me up to more than I can be.

Then he grimaced. Manny had been in a fight. There were bruises under both eyes and, of greater medical significance, he’d suffered torn cartilage in his right ear. The ear hurt and was starting to swell. Unattended, it would lead to the condition known in boxing as a “cauliflower ear.”

A plastic surgeon took Pacquiao to an adjacent room and drained his ear. When they returned, white gauze was wrapped around Manny’s head. The merriment resumed. Roach stood quietly to the side.

“Manny is such a great guy to work with,” Freddie said. “He’s unbelievable, one of a kind. I’m working with the greatest fighter of my time and one of the greatest fighters ever. Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am.”

So . . . How good is Pacquiao?

It’s axiomatic in boxing that either a fighter is getting better or he’s getting worse. Remarkably, at age thirty-one, Pacquiao is getting better; much better. He’s on a roll where each new fight (first De La Hoya, then Hatton, now Cotto) becomes his signature outing.

Part of that is Roach’s influence. Freddie has worked with some of the best fighters of our time and the three most famous (De La Hoya, Tyson, and Pacquiao).

“Oscar was a slow learner,” Roach says. “Oscar needed repetition. He had to do something over and over again to get it right. Tyson, at the point in his career that I was with him, wasn’t interested in learning. Manny is very teachable and an incredibly fast learner. He’s carrying his punch and his power with him along with his speed as he moves up in weight. He‘s on fire. He’s getting better all the time.”

Against Cotto, Pacquiao made a world-class fighter look ordinary and turned him into a foil. “His performance,” Gordon Marino wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “was absolutely jaw-dropping; a fistic work of art.” His ability to take punches and walk through punishment is astounding. And speed is only part of the problem that Manny poses for opponents. He punches with power too.

“We thought Pacquiao was great,” Larry Merchant said after the fight. “He’s better than we thought.”

Pacquiao frequently talks about entering the political arena. In 2007, he ran for Congress and was defeated decisively by incumbent Darlene Antonino-Custodio. But his popularity has grown since then and another campaign in 2010 appears to be in the cards. Manny’s motives are pure, but some of his biggest admirers fear that politics could be his unmaking; that depending on his associations, he could be tainted by the political process, especially if he wins.

“Manny might find out that politics isn’t as much fun as boxing,” Roach says. “And it might be rougher. I’ve been wrong before, but I think Manny can do more for his country as a boxer than he can as a politician.”

What we know for sure is that Pacquiao is doing a lot for boxing.

“What did Manny Pacquiao achieve?” Jerry Izenberg (the dean of American sportswriters) asked after Pacquiao-Cotto. “He brought boxing back into newspapers, back onto television, and back into an unbroken chain of conversations across America, from its office water coolers to its neighborhood saloons. Yankee Stadium and the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium are now talking about outdoor championship fights with guess who as the magnet that will pack them in. The face of all of boxing is indelibly stamped with that of Manny Pacquiao today. This wasn’t just a great fight. It was a coronation.”

For years, the people who run boxing worried, “What will happen when Tyson retires?” Then it was, “What will happen when Oscar retires?” Now Manny Pacquiao is ushering in a new potentially-golden era.

Pacquiao-Cotto showed that boxing is still capable of thrilling entire nations and giving the world magical nights. It wasn’t the last big fight of the current decade. It was the first big fight of the future.

For too long, boxing has been rooted in the past. Ten years ago, the conventional wisdom was that all things good and profitable in the sweet science flowed from the United States. The Internet was an afterthought insofar as marketing was concerned. Now boxing has gone global and digital. And Pacquiao is reaching critical mass. His fights keep getting bigger.

Boxing has taken Manny Pacquiao on a journey that’s almost beyond belief. In return, he has put his mark on the sport forever.