Whether he was doing too well in sparring against Miguel Cotto – or not well enough – is not clear at this point.
What is clear is that Frankie “El Gato” Figueroa has been sent packing, in a very short amount of time, after serving as a sparring partner for Cotto. Figueroa was only part of the Cotto team for about a week before he got his walking papers.
Hired to mimic the moves of Manny Pacquiao, Figueroa, a 5'6” tall southpaw with a record of 20-3 (13) KOs is a former NABF Jr. welterweight titlist. He is returning from a brutal knockout at the hands of Randall Bailey and will see action on Nov. 4 against Rashad Holloway. He was seen as valuable to the Cotto camp because he and Pacquiao are nearly identical in size and both are left-handed fighters.
Observers weren't sure what to make of the sudden change. The Puerto Rican born Figueroa, who worked effectively to help Cotto prepare for his 2007 bout against Zab Judah, would seem to be perfect to prepare Cotto ahead of the big fight on Nov. 14. So his abrupt departure left a few people scratching their heads and raising their eyebrows.
It has led to some speculation that all may not be as reported in the Cotto training camp. While news from the Baguio City, Philippines gym where Manny Pacquiao is training are glowing; anecdotal information from the Miguel Cotto camp in Tampa, Florida are less so. Promoter Bob Arum has visited both fighters and he has told anyone that has asked that Pacquiao appears practically superhuman, whereas Cotto still has some time to put in more work.
With 24 days to go, Cotto is now down to two unknown, southpaw sparring partners in Fred Tukes and Kenny Abril, who are far less capable and would have to be considered rank amateurs compared to Pacquiao's gym competition. Tukes has a pro log of 7-1-1 and hasn't had a fight in 14 months. Abril is 9-3-1.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao has sparred with Urbano Antillon whose record is 26-1, former lightweight champ Jose Luis Castillo and the undefeated 154-pound Shawn Porter. There were erroneous reports circulated last week that Pacquiao would spar with undefeated Omar Henry, 5-0, 5 KOs who has scored every one of his wins in the first round.