By Alex P. Vidal/ PNS
LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Top Rank chief Bob Arum has described World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Miguel Angel Cotto as “the biggest obstacle in (Manny) Pacquiao’s ring career” during the final press conference for the “Pacquiao vs Cotto: Firepower” at the Hollywood Theater in MGM Grand, here, November 11 afternoon.
“Cotto has a heart as big as this room,” the 77-year-old prominent promoter enthused as he moderated the three-hour media forum attended by members of coaching staff from both camps.
Cotto (34-1, 27 KOs) was paraded in the conference ahead of Pacquiao towed by his father, Miguel Sr. and trainer, Joe Santiago.
“I trained a lot like never been before for this fight and we have created a game plan on how to beat Pacquiao,” Cotto, who turned 29 last October 29, remarked in a brief speech. “I dedicated this fight for the glory of all the Hispanics.”
Cotto wished the 30-year-old Pacquiao “the best of luck” because he said, “he needs it most on Saturday (Nov. 11).”
There was neither enmity nor animosity as both camps elected to use good words between each other.
Santiago, who impressed the crowd with his gesture of goodwill towards Team Pacquiao, confirmed that “Cotto is in the best shape of his career.”
Santiago believed that after the fight, the WBO belt would still be strapped around his ward’s waist.
Arum also confirmed that the 12-round duel for Cotto’s title on November 14 “is the most important fight of Pacquiao’s career” as he is gunning for a record seventh world crown since he annexed Chatchai Sasakul’s World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight diadem on a shock 8th round knockout at Phuttamonthon, Thailand on December 4, 1998.
“The Cotto camp has been very good,” beamed Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs), who flashed a smile most of the time in a show of confidence. “There is no reason (for me) not to put up a good showing on Saturday because this is the most important fight of my career. After this fight, there will be a lot of excitement in my country.”
Pacquiao was accompanied by trainer Freddie Roach, fight conditioner Alex Ariza, legman Michael Koncz, and assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez.
Before the start of the press conference, Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman awarded both Cotto and Pacquiao with symbolic key each “with a great deal of affection” saying he is “the happiest mayor in the world” for having welcomed two of the greatest fighters in the world.
Arum described Goodman as “the greatest mayor of the greatest city in the world.”
Also present during the press conference attended by journalists from the Philippines, United States and Puerto Rico were Nevada State Athletic Commission executive Keith Kizer, HBO head Mark Tafffet, Richard Sturm. Tecate executive Marcelo Salina, and WBC executive director Mauricio Sulaiman who presented the WBC diamond championship belt that will go the winner.